Guinea says it will investigate massacre

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The Independent Online

The military leader of Guinea banned all "subversive" gatherings yesterday after his soldiers opened fire on crowds at a pro-democracy rally, killing a reported 157 people and wounding at least 1,250.

In a televised address, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara said any troublemakers would be "severely punished", but he also announced two days of national mourning and pledged to investigate the violence.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, condemned the use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters who gathered at a football stadium in the west African nation's capital, Conakry.

A human rights group said 157 people were killed and 1,253 wounded. The government, however, claimed only 57 had died, most of them trampled to death.

Ms Pillay welcomed the junta's call for an investigation but said it was essential that it was independent and impartial "so that all those responsible for carrying out summary executions, rapes and other human rights violations are brought to justice".

A senior opposition leader said his faction had no plans to hold another rally. "Our priority is to bury our dead and to take care of our wounded," Sidya Toure added. "We are very far from making any demonstration plans. Conakry is a very small town, people are traumatised."

Mr Toure, a former prime minister, was arrested during the rally but released. He suffered head wounds and returned home on Tuesday to find his house, which is also his party headquarters, ransacked.

Yesterday, Thierno Maadjou Sow, of the Guinean Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights, claimed three more people had been killed since Monday's crackdown and soldiers had removed several of the wounded from hospitals.

Capt Camara accused the opposition of acting irresponsibly, saying: "It was the opposition politicians who led other people's sons and daughters to their deaths, while their own sons and daughters are comfortably living elsewhere."