Horror of Guinea stadium massacre that killed 157

World unites in condemnation after pro-democracy rally ends with soldiers 'killing and raping' hundreds

Thousands had marched to the football stadium in downtown Conakry on Monday to protest against Guinea's military junta. Nearly 160 people paid for that show of dissent with their lives, it emerged yesterday, some gunned down in a hail of bullets, other skewered by bayonets as they tried to flee or rescue the women being raped by soldiers in the stands.

As the full scale of the massacre became known, condemnation poured in from around the world. France, the country's former colonial ruler, suspended military aid and the African Union threatened sanctions. The French also called an emergency EU meeting for today to discuss punishing those individuals behind the "savage and bloody" repression.

An estimated 50,000 people had defied a ban on rallies and joined an opposition protest against the rule of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who seized power in a bloodless coup in December. The military ruler had promised not to stand in elections in January but rumours that he would contest them after all prompted the democracy rally.

Citing hospital sources, Thierno Maadjou Sow, president of the Guinean Human Rights Organisation, told Reuters that at least 157 people had been killed and 1,253 injured in the violence. But, amid reports that the security forces had swept corpses from the streets, Mr Sow said that his organisation's death toll only included those people whose bodies had been brought to the city's overwhelmed hospitals.

Witnesses recounted how security forces fired indiscriminately into the crowd just after noon on Monday. "Our [opposition] leaders didn't even have a chance to speak. I saw the armed men shooting directly into the crowds and shooting in the air – there was tear gas and gunshots and total panic; we ran for our lives," one witness told Human Rights Watch.

There were also reports of soldiers using knives and bayonets to finish off those protesters who had dodged the bullets, as well as female demonstrators being raped and sexually assaulted. "They were raping women in broad daylight," opposition activist Moctar Diallo told Radio France International. "Women were stripped naked. The soldiers were putting their rifles in the vaginas of these women ... I saw this myself."

Despite members of his red beret-wearing presidential guard being involved in Monday's bloodbath, Captain Camara shrugged off accusations of culpability, saying the security forces were beyond his control.

"I am very sorry," the junta leader told Radio France International. "This clash did not take place because of me... Those people who committed those atrocities were uncontrollable elements in the military. Even I, as head of state in this very tense situation, cannot claim to be able to control those elements in the military."

A later government statement noted that "according to preliminary investigations, most of the innocent victims died as a result of being crushed in the crowd."

Mr Diallo called on the military ruler to stand down. "The people of Guinea want him to leave," he said. "It's not about whether [he] runs or not in next year's election. He needs to go now."

Corinne Dufka, a West Africa expert at Human Rights Watch, said the slaughter was "shocking even by the abusive standards of Guinea's coup government". The military junta had pledged to break with Guinea's abusive past, she said; "but these deadly acts of repression and excessive use of force show how empty those promises were".

Captain Camara was unknown outside military circles until last December. Six hours after the death of the dictator Lansana Conté was announced, he broke into the state broadcaster, went on air and declared a coup d'etat.

After a quarter of a century of President Conté's rule, Guineans embraced the young captain and tuned in to the so-called Dadis show to see him name and shame drug barons, humiliate corrupt officials and interrogate the henchmen of the toppled authoritarian regime on television.

But the novelty value wore off, thanks to his unkept promises. First he delayed elections until 2010 and then appeared to renege on a pledge to stay out of the race.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace