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87 dead after bloodbath at Guinea opposition rally


Conakry (Guinea) : At least 87 people were killed in Guinea when government security forces fired into the crowd at an opposition rally in the capital Conakry, reports said Tuesday.

Hundreds of opposition supporters turned up Monday at the Sep 28 football stadium, named for the day in 1958 when Guinea claimed independence from France, to campaign against junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.

The junta had banned the protest, but few people took notice, turning up to wave palm fronds and cardboard banners splashed with slogans such as “Down with Dadis” and “Down with the ruling party”.

By early afternoon, the stadium had become a makeshift morgue.

The initial body count was only 10, a local journalist told the DPA.

But Radio France International (RFI), quoting a police source, later reported that at least 87 had been killed as security forces sprayed the crowd with bullets.

Camara, who took control of the West African nation in a December coup just hours after the death of long-time president Lansana Conte, said they were still waiting for official confirmation of the figures.

“Effectively, there are deaths, but I am still waiting for the numbers … I am waiting to be apprised of the situation to see how we will proceed,” he told RFI. “But I am frankly very sorry.”

Cellou Diallo, the head of a key opposition party, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea, was arrested alongside other political campaigners. Other opposition leaders were injured.

France condemned what it called “violent repression” of a peaceful demonstration.

Camara initially vowed not to run in presidential elections scheduled for January 2010, saying he was a transitional leader who would oversee Guinea’s return to democracy, but western diplomats say he is eager to announce his candidacy.

One diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told DPA the re-election of Camara would be bad news for the region.

He said further violence in Guinea, which borders Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau, could contribute to insecurity throughout West Africa.