Wednesday, February 14, 2007

West Africa: Guinea army has orders to shoot rioters and looters

Saliou Samb:

Soldiers and police in Guinea were under orders to shoot anti-government rioters and looters on Wednesday as they searched homes for stolen firearms on the second day of martial law in the West African country.

The world's No. 1 bauxite exporter is under military authority after President Lansana Conte declared a state of siege to halt a wave of protests that accompanied the restart by unions on Monday of a general strike, the second this year.

Well over 110 people have been killed since early January in clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters led by union bosses who say Conte, a reclusive, chain-smoking diabetic in his 70s, is unfit to rule.

The riots and labour stoppages have disrupted Guinea's strategic foreign-run production and shipments of bauxite, the ore from which aluminium metal is extracted.

Armed soldiers and police were out in force in the dilapidated seaside capital Conakry and upcountry towns to impose a stringent curfew restricting civilians to their homes all night and in the morning hours.

Eyewitness: 'I'm afraid for Guinea'

Guinea's President Declares Martial Law

Guinea: Ban Ki-moon appeals for calm as looters plunder UN food

Guinea: Violence, Curfew Hamper Emergency Care

U.N. rights chief condemns Guinea security forces' killing of civilians

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