Two killed as ethnic clashes grip eastern Guinea town

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2013 6:36 PM

CONAKRY (Reuters) - At least two people were killed and six others injured in clashes in south-eastern Guinea on Monday, a resident and a police source said, underscoring ethnic tensions simmering in the country in the run-up to parliamentary elections.

Mobs from rival ethnic groups took to the streets and gunfire rang out across Nzerekore, Guinea's second largest town, after a man accused of being a thief was killed, residents said.

"The situation is still very tense as I speak to you," the police source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

After months of deadlock and deadly clashes, often ethnically-driven, Guinea's political leaders have agreed to hold a long-overdue parliamentary election on September 24.

The poll is meant to be the final step in the return to civilian rule in the mineral-rich West African nation. President Alpha Conde won a 2010 presidential election but his rivals accuse him of trying to rig the planned legislative vote.

Mining firms have signed multi-billion dollar deals in a bid to secure untapped mineral riches, especially iron ore. But political instability has led to some investment being frozen.

"People are staying at home so as to avoid being caught out by the other camp," a resident of Nzerekore told Reuters by telephone.

The region is near Guinea's porous border with Liberia, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, all nations that are in the process of recovering from conflicts of their own.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by David Lewis)