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'Dozens Killed' in Guinea Anti-Junta Demonstration


Guinean police arrest a protester in front of the biggest stadium in the capital Conakry during a protest banned by Guinea's ruling junta. At least 58 people were killed in Conakry on Monday when Guinea's security forces opened fire on opposition demonstrators, with troops reportedly removing bodies to hide the scale of the bloodshed. (AFP/Seyllou)

CONAKRY, Guinea - Dozens of people were shot dead in Conakry on Monday when Guinea's security forces moved in against opposition demonstrators at a city stadium, witnesses and a medical source said.

"It's butchery! There are dozens of dead," said a doctor who asked not to be named at Conakry's largest hospital, where bodies were arriving after security forces crushed a protest against junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.

An AFP journalist saw at least 10 bodies with bullet wounds lying inside the stadium, after presidential guard troops violently evacuated several thousand people gathered to demonstrate in defiance of a ban.

Local journalists said they counted 27 corpses.

Two former prime ministers now in the opposition, Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure, were injured when the demonstration was violently repressed, then taken to a military camp, according to Diallo's wife.

"They were arrested and are at the Alpha Yaya Diallo camp," confirmed a government official who asked not to be named.

Halimatou Diallo, reached by telephone, said the two were "initially evacuated to the Ambroise Pare clinic".

But "soldiers came to get them. They took them from the clinic and led them to the Alpha Yaya Diallo camp", which is the headquarters of the junta in power since last December, Mrs Diallo added, saying that her house had been "ransacked."

The protestors had gathered to oppose any bid by the junta leader, who took power in December 2008, to run for president in elections due next January. Camara is also under strong international pressure to step down.

Demonstrators had begun to gather outside Conakry's largest stadium, which was guarded by large numbers of police. Protestors carried placards reading "No to Dadis" and "Down with the army in power."

The junta banned the demonstration, but several political parties, trade unions and civic organisations vowed that the event would go ahead.

In the middle of the morning, riot police charged the protestors.

Three badly injured people were laid out in front of a police post near the stadium, an AFP journalist saw. One had his leg broken in two places.

At least eight other people were wounded and about 30 youths were arrested and driven away in police trucks.

Witnesses said that opposition leaders who tried to reach the stadium were halted by police close to Conakry's university, where clashes erupted by the end of the morning between riot police and several thousand demonstrators.

Police reinforcements were rushed to the area, where the protestors were armed with stones and the police with tear gas.

In Conakry's working-class Belle-vue district, demonstrators set a police station and a police car ablaze, according to residents.

Speaking on national television Sunday, Interior Minister Frederic Kolie declared that "all demonstrations on national territory are prohibited until the national holiday on October 2."

News of the ban came a day after Camara -- in his first visit outside the capital since he took power in a coup last December -- went to Guinea's second city and opposition stronghold Labe.

Opposition sources had expected Camara to use his weekend journey to declare his intention to be a candidate in the January 2010 elections, but he instead gave a speech on national unity while also criticising his opponents.

Camara installed himself at the helm of the francophone West African nation after leading a bloodless coup within hours of the death of Guinea's strongman leader Lansana Conte, who had been in power since 1984.

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