September 22, 2017 / 6:54 AM / 3 years ago

Guinea rioters burn down police buildings in mining town, 17 wounded

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Hundreds of rioters in the Guinean bauxite mining town of Boke burned down a police and a gendarmerie building on Thursday and clashed with security forces wielding batons, leaving 17 people injured, the local Red Cross said.

Guinean authorities managed to avoid the bloodshed of previous days by desisting from using live bullets on the demonstrators in the Boke neighbourhood of Kolabounyi, Guinean Red Cross member Oumar Kalissa told Reuters by telephone.

Rioting by angry youths - who say bauxite mining has brought constant pollution and noise but no jobs or services like water and electricity - has paralysed Boke for most of the past week.

Despite decades of mining, Guinea, Africa’s top bauxite producer, remains one of the world’s least developed countries.

The mines around Boke produce some 15 million tonnes of aluminium ore for the West African nation’s largest mining companies Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB) and Companie Bauxite de Guinee (CBG), but their operations have repeatedly halted in the past week and are currently still blocked by demonstrators.

CBG is 49 percent owned by the Guinean state and the remainder by Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan and Dadco. SMB is owned by Guinea, China’s Winning Shipping Ltd, Shandong Weiqiao and UMS International Ltd.

“The Government strongly condemns these acts which are clearly outside law,” government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said in a statement.

Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Chris Reese

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