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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea