October 26, 2010 / 12:40 PM / in 8 years

Rights groups raise alarm on Guinea violence

DAKAR (Reuters) - Authorities in Guinea must punish abuses by security forces after reports of one death and dozens of injuries caused by live ammunition used to break up political protests, rights groups said on Tuesday.

An October 23 report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights accused security forces of using excessive force in clashes with demonstrators last week as a crisis over a delayed election in the junta-ruled West African state deepened.

Subsequent witness accounts of security forces using unrest in the capital Conakry to loot and beat residents will bring back memories of the September 28, 2009 killings and mass rapes of pro-democracy marchers that triggered worldwide condemnation.

“This ruthless and reckless reaction to the protests is the latest example of violence by Guinea’s security forces, whose brutality habitually goes unpunished,” said Gaetan Mootoo of Amnesty International.

Separately Human Rights Watch called on authorities to investigate allegations by civil rights leader Mamadou Aliou Barry that he suffered a broken arm and contusions after security forces subjected him to beatings during a brief detention last week.

HRW said Barry alleged in a telephone interview from his hospital bed in Conakry that gendarmes initially targeted him because he is of the Peul ethnic group, underlining concerns of rising ethnic tensions in the country.

Guinea has already missed three target dates to hold a second round in a presidential election meant to ensure a transition to civilian rule in a country increasingly eyed by investors for its rich bauxite and iron deposits.

Irregularities and accusations of fraud in the June first round fuelled a dispute over alleged bias in the national election commission, whose newly installed president has yet to name a date for a run-off between ex-prime minister Cellou Dallein Diallo and rival Alpha Conde.

A U.N. report last December blamed the then junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara for the September 28 massacre but Camara himself is in exile in Burkina Faso while other ringleaders of the violence remain unpunished.

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