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article imageSecurity Forces in Guinea Kill at Least 87 People

By Chris Dade     Sep 28, 2009 in World
Security forces in Guinea opened fire on Monday on an estimated crowd of 50,000, which had gathered in the country's capital Conakry to protest at the rule of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, killing at least 87 people.
Following the death last December of Lansana Conte, the man who ruled Guinea, a country in West Africa which gained its independence from France in 1958, for over 24 years, Capt Camara led a bloodless coup which the BBC says enjoyed some initial popular support.
But with a Presidential election due in Guinea in January and Capt Camara hinting that he may stand in that election protests against the government have been gaining momentum in recent weeks.
And then on Monday came the rally at the largest stadium in Conkary, the capital of Guinea, attended by tens of thousands of people.
As AFP reports the rally had been banned by the authorities and police were dispatched to guard the stadium where it was due to take place. However with various opposition groups declaring that the rally would go ahead protesters gathered at the stadium, many of them carrying placards with messages that read "No to Dadis" and "Down with the army in power".
The confrontation that followed saw the police charge the crowd, firing live ammunition as they did so.
Early estimates put the number of deaths at 58. However an unnamed police source later put the number at 87. The Guinean government has neither confirmed nor denied the number killed and there has been no independent verification.
47 bodies were reportedly taken to the Samory Toure military camp in Conakry, amongst them the bodies of four women, as the military apparently tried to conceal the true extent of what had happened.
To add to the confusion a Red Cross source told AFP that the instructions from military commanders were for bodies to be taken to the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp, and not to any morgues. An army truck also allegedly collected bodies from a hospital, leading one doctor to declare that what had happened was "butchery".
Opposition leaders, and former Prime Ministers of Guinea, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure, were injured in the violence and have been detained by the military at Alpha Yaya Diallo.
A police station was set alight during the clashes between the police/army and demonstrators, as were a number of vehicles.
France, the former colonial power in Guinea, has condemned what it called "the violent repression exercised by the army against the opposition and civil society during a peaceful demonstration held in Conakry", whilst the U.S. has urged restraint on the part of the Guinean authorities. An official in Washington spoke too of the need for those authorities in Guinea to act " in accordance with universally accepted standards of human rights".
As for Capt Camara, he had the following to say on the violence that took place:I wanted to go (and see what was happening), I was so really disgusted when I was told. I'd rather die (than see people killed) because I didn't take control of this country to have a confrontation. I said that nothing should happen to the (opposition) leaders, that I didn't want there to be a drop of blood
Over the weekend Camara, under international pressure not to stand for President, made his first visit outside Conkary since coming to power at the end of last year.
An eccentric individual, reports the BBC, Camara once forced members of the elite presidential guard to appear on TV and beg for forgiveness after they attacked a veteran officer. Another TV appearance came from the son of former President Lansana Conte. On that occasion a confession of cocaine smuggling was broadcast.
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