Monday, February 20, 2017

At Least 5 Killed in Protests Over Guinea Teachers' Strike

At least five people were killed in Guinea's capital of Conakry on Monday in protests sparked by a teacher's strike, the government said, reviving labor tensions in a country where previous strikes have led to dozens of deaths.

Guinea's main teachers' unions launched the strike on Feb. 1 to protest the government's decision to dismiss or cut the salaries of many junior teachers after the latest civil service exams, and many of their students have taken to the streets in recent days to support them.

Beginning early Monday morning, unidentified assailants attacked a police station and demonstrators clashed with gendarmes in several districts of Conakry, witnesses said.

"By midday, these demonstrations had unfortunately caused the deaths of at least five people," the government said in a statement, calling the protest "illegal and forbidden".

It added that 30 people had been injured, including members of the security forces, and 12 arrested. Witnesses told Reuters that three of the dead had been shot but it was not possible to verify that information.

General strikes about 10 years ago caused major disruptions in Guinea, which has around a third of the world's reserves of bauxite, used to make aluminum. The subsequent crackdown led by security forces led to the deaths of 135 people.

The government said on Monday that a deal had been struck to end the teachers' strike but that could not be immediately confirmed.

(Reporting By Saliou Samb; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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