Guinea soldiers attack Diallo supporters

2010-11-18 22:22

Dakar - The International Crisis Group on Thursday accused Guinea's security forces of "systematic attacks" against supporters of defeated presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo.

The ICG urged Guinea’s leaders and the international community to "take urgent measures to halt widespread attacks against defenceless civilians and to prevent political tensions from degenerating into large-scale ethnic violence and regional instability".

Following the announcement of presidential election results on Monday, handing Alpha Conde victory "the country has descended into violence", the ICG said in a statement.

Clashes have broken out in Diallo's strongholds amid tension over claims of massive voting fraud. Diallo claims he is the rightful winner.

"Defence and security forces have engaged in systematic attacks on supporters of Diallo’s" Union of Democratic Forces (UFDG), in major urban areas in the Fouta region in Middle Guinea, home to many from the Fulani ethnic group.

The ICG said that UFDG supporters were for their part guilty of "attacking and destroying properties" belonging to Conde's supporters, who are mostly Malinke.

The ICG warned that while the run-up to the vote had seen sporadic violence "the situation has now deteriorated further".

Red Beret

"The active participation of the military - beating, molesting and shooting defenceless civilians and destroying their property - has changed the dynamics of the violence."

The group said one observer from the northern town of Labe reported armed soldiers were patrolling neighbourhoods and openly threatening civilians.

"Also, there are reports of Red Beret soldiers, notorious for human rights abuses, roaming in Peul (Fulani) neighbourhoods in Conakry and hunting down Peul business owners," read the statement.

"At least twelve people were reported to have been killed in Conakry, and shots were heard in several other cities."

No official death toll has been announced by government, and an unofficial tally conducted by AFP revealed at least seven deaths.

The group urged both Conde and Diallo to work towards diffusing tensions and address the ethnic polarisation.