UPDATE 5-Mine "bloodbath" shocks post-apartheid S.Africa

Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:08pm GMT

* Protesters armed and determined to die - police chief

* President Zuma says violence "shocking", announces inquiry

* Stunned South Africans question "culture of violence"

* World platinum prices spike, Lonmin shares slump

By Jon Herskovitz

MARIKANA, South Africa, Aug 17 (Reuters) - The police killing of 34 striking platinum miners in the bloodiest security operation since the end of white rule cut to the quick of South Africa's psyche on Friday, with searching questions asked of its post-apartheid soul.

Newspaper headlines screamed "Bloodbath", "Killing Field" and "Mine Slaughter", with graphic photographs of heavily armed white and black police officers walking casually past the bloodied corpses of black men lying crumpled in the dust.

The images, along with Reuters TV footage of officers opening up with automatic weapons on a small group of men in blankets and t-shirts at Lonmin's Marikana platinum plant, rekindled uncomfortable memories of South Africa's racist past.

Police chief Riah Phiyega confirmed 34 dead and 78 injured in Thursday's shootings after officers moved against 3,000 striking drill operators armed with machetes and sticks at the mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.   Continued...

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