Guinean troops deployed after deadly ethnic clashes


Security forces have been deployed in the south-east of Guinea after at least 54 people died in ethnic clashes.

A curfew is already in place in the country's second city, N'Zerekore.

The fighting spread from a nearby town where guards from the Guerze community beat to death an ethnic Konianke youth whom they had accused of stealing.

Witnesses said some of the victims who died in the three days of violence were hacked to death with machetes or burned alive.

Authorities had initially put the death toll at 12 but the figure rose sharply as bodies were collected from the streets of N'Zerekore on Wednesday.

Around 130 people were said to have been injured in the clashes.

Government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara told the Reuters news agency calm had been restored and about 50 people arrested.

Earlier reports said sporadic violence was continuing in surrounding rural areas.

Guinea has a long history of ethnic tension between the two groups, with clashes regularly breaking out over religious and other grievances.

The Guerze are mostly Christian or animist, while the Konianke are Muslims considered to be close to the Mandingo ethnic community who live in neighbouring countries.

The latest violence first erupted on Monday in the village of Koule before spreading to nearby N'Zerekore, some 570km (350 miles) south-east of the capital, Conakry.

The army imposed a curfew in the city of about 300,000 to try to restore calm.

On Tuesday, President Alpha Conde made a televised appeal for calm and called for unity in the run-up to long-delayed elections due in September.

"The town of N'Zerekore has witnessed events resulting in a loss of human life, several wounded and damage to property. Faced with this situation, I call on the population for calm," he said in the national address.

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