3 dead in Guinea opposition protest
Conakry - Three people died in Guinea on Tuesday, according to hospital and police sources, when security forces used truncheons and tear gas to break up an opposition protest in the capital.
Tensions are rising in the West African state before a December parliamentary election the opposition alleges is being rigged by President Alpha Conde, who came to power after a disputed November 2010 election that ended junta rule.
A doctor at Conakry's Donka Hospital told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the hospital had received two corpses, one apparently stabbed to death and the other apparently beaten to death.
Later, a senior police source said a third corpse had arrived.
Leading opposition figure Cellou Dalein Diallo, who organised the rally, said three people had been killed and security forces had used live rounds.
"We have collected bullet casings, but the clearest proof is the dead bodies," Diallo told reporters. "I'm being told now of three dead, but I am waiting for the Red Cross and the country's medical services to give me a full report."
Security forces spokesperson Alimou Diakite told state television they had strict orders not to use firearms and said 23 of their number had been injured by protesters.
The march took place on the eve of the second anniversary of a massacre by security forces of more than 150 opponents of the then military junta in a Conakry stadium. Soldiers committed mass rapes and other abuses that shocked the world.
This time Guinea's military ordered soldiers to remain off the streets, leaving security to the national guard and police.
Residents said violence had broken out in the late morning in the Conakry suburbs of Bambeto and Bomboli, strongholds of the opposition and inhabited mostly by members of Diallo's Peul ethnic group. This group has long complained of being denied political power despite being Guinea's largest ethnic group.
"There were youths on the hilltops throwing rocks. The security forces fired back with tear gas, which triggered general panic," Souleymane Bah, a resident of Bambeto, said.
Diallo has accused the government of tampering with voter rolls to win a majority and Conde of installing an ally as head of the electoral commission.