Source: HUFFINGTON POST
CONAKRY, Guinea — A military crackdown on protesters in a remote Guinean town this week left three people dead and dozens more wounded, while at least three women were raped by soldiers, witnesses alleged Thursday. A defense official denied soldiers shot civilians, but the incident still added to concerns about Guinea’s army, which already has been implicated in a massacre and systematic rape in a country struggling to transition to democracy.
The crackdown occurred in the town of Gueckedou, located 700 kilometers (430 miles) southeast of Guinea’s capital, Conakry. Thousands of demonstrators there were calling for the resignation of a top regional official, and the army trucked in soldiers to disperse the protesters Tuesday.
Witnesses said the army opened fire first with tear gas, then with live rounds.
“I can confirm that three bodies were logged into the register at the prefecture’s hospital in Gueckedou. The bodies have been buried. The wounded are still arriving. Some with stab wounds. Some with bullet wounds,” said Sayon Teliano, a local health worker who was called to the hospital to help. Speaking Thursday, with soldiers still in the town, Teliano said the forensic report found that the three people who died were struck by bullets.
Retired army Col. Kamano Faro, who resides in Gueckedou, said the army used the protest as a pretext to brutalize the town. He said along with the three dead, at least 103 people were hurt, and dozens of boutiques and stores were pillaged.
“The army brought terror to our town,” Faro said. “In the neighborhood of Nongo, I saw soldiers going into people’s houses and breaking things. “I saw them grab the pots off of people’s fires, and eat the rice and the sauce that was inside. I know a pork seller, who was robbed of all his money. They even took his pig, and slaughtered it (to eat).”
Guinea, a nation of 10.2 million, spent much of its post-independence history under various types of military rule, starting with a 1984 coup by an army colonel, Lansana Conte. He died in office in 2008; hours later an army captain seized power.
In 2009, when tens of thousands of demonstrators crowded into the national soccer stadium in Conakry to demand the army relinquish control, the captain’s elite red beret-wearing guard sealed the gates to the stadium. They then opened fire with machine guns, mowing down the protesters – killing at least 157.
Women were also dragged onto the stadium turf, into the stands, under bleachers, and in neighboring structures and gang-raped by officers who stuffed their red berets into their mouths to silence them, a scene shocking even for this troubled region of Africa.
Rape was allegedly another tactic used by the armed forces during this week’s crackdown.