Guinea’s military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has promised an inquiry into a crackdown by security forces on opposition protesters that local rights groups said claimed at least 157 lives.
However, Camara also said that opposition troublemakers would be punished and accused crowds at Monday’s rally in the capital Conakry of looting weapons from a police station.
“[Authorities] will do all necessary to shed light on these tragic events which threaten social peace,” he said on state TV on Tuesday night.
In a warning to opposition leaders, he added that any further “subversive” meetings were banned.
Camara urged Christian and Muslim priests, political and civic leaders and journalists to “abstain from acts that disrupt public order.”
He declared today and tomorrow national mourning and asked for national prayers to be held on Friday and Sunday in memory of the dead.
Camara sought to distance himself from Monday’s bloodshed, saying on France’s Europe 1 radio: “I was overtaken by events. I can’t control all the actions of this army. To say that I control this army would be demagogy.”
“I was bequeathed a half-century-old inheritance: an army in which a corporal can say ‘screw you’ to colonel or a general,” Camara said.
Activists reported fresh killings for a second day on Tuesday.
“Today we recorded three more deaths from army shootings, two in Wanidara and one in Cosa,” both neighborhoods outside Conakry, said Thierno Maadjou Sow, an official with the Guinean Organization for the Defense of Human Rights.
“The young people went outside and the soldiers shot at them.”
Sow also alleged that soldiers removed wounded people from hospitals and took them to unknown locations.
“Soldiers went to take away the injured being treated at the Donka hospital [in the capital] to bring them to an unknown destination as well as women who had been raped and were being treated at the local health center in Ratoma [outside the capital],” he said.
The UN, the African Union and the EU, the US and Canada all expressed alarm over the killings, which took place at a stadium where tens of thousands of people attended a rally against Camara.
The protesters were opposing any bid by the junta leader to run for president in an election due in January.
Camara also faces strong international pressure to step down.
Camara took over the west African nation after leading a bloodless coup within hours of the death of Guinea’s strongman leader, Lansana Conte, who had ruled the country since 1984.
The opposition has accused junta forces of collecting bodies in a bid to hide “the scale of the massacre.”
Sydia Toure, one of two former prime ministers injured at the protest, said that the shootings were “a deliberate attempt” to eliminate the opposition.
Mamadi Kaba, head of the Guinean branch of the African Encounter for the Defence of Human Rights, said the rapes of women began in the Conakry stadium.
“The military raped women” at the stadium and later at army barracks, police posts and other parts of Conakry, Kaba said, adding that there were reports of new rape attacks by soldiers on Tuesday.
Opposition activist Mouctar Diallo said he saw soldiers putting their rifles into the vaginas of naked women.
“I saw this myself,” he told RFI.
“They were raping women publicly,” Diallo added. “Soldiers were shooting everywhere and I saw people fall.”
A Red Cross source said military commanders ordered all bodies at the stadium taken to the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp, the junta headquarters, rather than to morgues.
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