Over 20 Hurt as Guinea Clamps Down on Anti-Govt. Protests


More than 20 people were wounded Monday in clashes between anti-government protesters and police in Guinea, the opposition said, as the regime of President Alpha Conde clamped down on nationwide demonstrations.

Clashes broke out between youths and security forces in the capital Conakry as demonstrators burned tires and threw stones at police, who responded with tear gas, according to witnesses.

"The opposition has recorded 26 injured, around a dozen by gunshots," spokesman Mamadou Mouctar Diallo told AFP, accusing police of looting homes.

The government however reported that just two civilians had been injured in traffic accidents in the capital caused by protesters putting up barricades and spilling engine oil on the roads.

Witnesses said several hundred women began a march in the central business district, shouting slogans against Conde, but were dispersed by security forces.

Around a dozen were arrested, according to witnesses and a policeman who said they were flouting a ban on demonstrations in the area.

Police gathered in large numbers on Conakry's main roads, including the Prince highway leading from the suburbs through pro-opposition neighborhoods to the city center.

- Opposition leaders corralled -

Armored trucks and pick-ups manned by officers in riot gear with tear gas grenade launchers were stationed across the city.

Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo's residence was surrounded by a cordon of police from the early hours of the morning, the politician told reporters.

There were similar cordons around the homes of senior opposition activists Sidya Toure and Baidy Aribot, according to aides.

"We will file a complaint in court against the police for false imprisonment," said opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla.

The Madina market, economic heart of Conakry, was closed along with most businesses in the neighborhoods close to the airport, according to an AFP reporter on the ground.

The streets were quiet in pro-opposition strongholds including the central towns of Labe, Mamou, Dalaba and Pita, residents said, although activists staged a rally at their headquarters in the southeastern city of N'Zerekore. 

The government said authorized demonstrations ran smoothly in Labe, Pita and Tougue.

Guinea's opposition had originally planned to limit the protests to Conakry but announced last week the "peaceful marches" were being widened into a nationwide show of defiance.

It followed two weeks of clashes in April between anti-government activists and security services which left several people dead and dozens wounded in the country's largest towns and cities.

Guinea's opposition boycotted parliament in March in protest over the timetable for the presidential ballot, accusing Conde of using the Ebola epidemic as an excuse to postpone voting.

The opposition had called for the local election -- originally planned for the beginning of 2014 -- to be held before this year's October presidential vote but they are not due to take place until March 2016.

Conde has insisted the country's constitution rules out the kind of changes to the election timetable sought by opposition supporters.

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