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Thousands Identify Guinea Bodies   
 
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03-Oct-2009  
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Thousands of people have gathered at a mosque in Guinea's capital, Conakry, to identify those killed in Monday's opposition rally against military rule.

Security forces struggled to cope with the crowds, after 57 bodies were taken to the mosque from a hospital morgue and lined up under nearby trees. One of the opposition leaders beaten during the violence has arrived in Paris for hospital treatment.

The authorities say 57 people were killed, but rights groups say 157 died. Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo was prevented from leaving the country on Wednesday but was then allowed to travel to Dakar on Senegal's presidential plane before continuing to Paris.

Monday's rally was called to protest at reports that the military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, is planning to stand in presidential elections next year. After seizing power in December 2008, he pledged not to contest elections.

Capt Camara on Friday addressed a small crowd to mark the 51st anniversary of Guinea's independence, reports the AFP news agency. "September 28, 2009 is from now on a symbol of violence," he said.

On Thursday, Capt Camara expressed fears for his own safety, days after the killing by the army of dozens of people protesting against his rule. Speaking to Radio France Internationale he described himself as a "hostage" both to the people and to the "unstructured" army.

He said that if he announced he was not standing for election, another military officer would take over the country. Soldiers used live rounds against huge crowds of protesters on Monday. Eyewitnesses have told human rights groups of soldiers raping women in the streets during the crackdown.

The junta says far fewer people died, and claims most of them were trampled to death. Capt Camara, whose leadership has been described as erratic since he seized power in a bloodless coup last year, has called for a UN team to investigate the deaths.

He claimed that the protesters who included members of the army - had been trying to overthrow him. He also urged the opposition to join a government of national unity. But leaders of the main opposition blocs have rejected his offer.

Sidya Toure, of the Union of Republic Forces, told the BBC: "This does not interest me in the slightest. We have days of mourning here. Our population is very shocked. "The first thing for us is to know who has given the order to kill people here, who is responsible for that."

There has been widespread condemnation of the violence, with the head of the West African Regional grouping, Ecowas, telling the BBC that what happened was "unacceptable" and could not be left unpunished.

On Wednesday, France announced it had suspended military co-operation with its former colony and said it was considering freezing aid to the country. But analysts say international bodies have little leverage as Guinea is a resource-rich, wealthy nation enjoying heavy investment from foreign mining firms.





 
 
Source: BBC
 
 

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