Welcome to Hell: Guinean Security Forces on a Rampage in Opposition Neighborhoods – Assaults, Theft, Arson and Shooting 16 Year-Old Kids in the Back (VIDEO-PICS)
May 29, 2013
A delegation consisting of Guinean government officials and Western diplomats was supposed to tour opposition neighborhoods in Conakry where residents were severely assaulted and homes and businesses were burned to the ground. The wholesale assault on primarily Peul neighborhoods was conducted by security forces and “irregular” militias sponsored by the State over the last several days. It is common for these forces to conduct “payback” raids in these neighborhoods after opposition demonstrations.
While further news about the government–diplomatic tour has not surfaced, France 24’s “Observer Report,” see below, has done a decent job of providing an overview of the damage to homes, cars and businesses and revealing violent actions by state-sponsored forces against residents.
France 24: Observers report
28/05/2013 / GUINEA
A spate of pre-election looting and ransacking has unfolded in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, since Thursday May 23rd. Residents from the opposition-dominated district of Cosa told FRANCE 24 armed police took part in the incidents.
Opposition activists have been protesting for several weeks because they believe the upcoming legislative elections are being organised in such a way that will render the vote unfair. Since last Thursday, their demonstrations have escalated into clashes with the security forces.
Cosa neighbourhood inà Conakry. Photo: Nouhou Baldé (@nouhoubalde)
The opposition stronghold of Cosa, in Conakry’s Ratoma district, has been hit badly by the violence. Nouhou Baldé, a journalist at Guinée News, published photos of the damage in Cosa on his Twitter account on Sunday May 26th.
The photos show burnt-out cars, homes and businesses, which the authorities have blamed on vandals. According to locals, however, the security forces are also responsible. Witnesses say they saw members of the security forces attack residents with knives and shoot real bullets. Fifteen people have been killed in Conakry since last Thursday, with the majority being shot.
Cosa neighbourhood in Conakry, Guinea. Photo: Nouhou Baldé (@nouhoubalde).
When contacted by FRANCE 24, the Guinean government spokesman did not deny security forces could have been involved in causing the damage: “In such confusion, in an extremely difficult context, some things may have been uncontrollable. We cannot deny any abuses committed by members of the security forces, neither can we give them credit, at a time where there is no evidence undermining individual units. A national commission inquiry will be named to shed light on the events”.
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“The fire at the peul market could only have been started by the security forces”
Habib Baldé lives in Cosa. He was part of recent youth opposition protests.
Everything started on Thursday evening, after the protest. In the night, one of the markets in Cosa, the soussou market, was looted. Residents saw the armed police were there but did not react [Editor’s note: according to other sources, the police took part in the looting]. So we, the young people in the neighbourhood, organised ourselves to protect the other market: the peul market. We put up barricades.
On Saturday, the security forces came back and succeeded in entering the neighbourhood. Not long after, a fire started up inside peul market. Only the security forces were there at that moment. The fire could only have been started by them. It provoked a combined effort by the locals. Everyone came to try to put it out, but the armed police threw tear gas at us.
“The armed police brought out knives shouting they would kill us”
Sidibé is an engineer. His house was looted on Friday.
It happened on Friday. I was staying at home with my brothers because there had been protests. I was in the courtyard at my house. At 11am, we heard stones being thrown on the roof. We took refuge inside.
The thugs came, they banged on the walls and windows of the house. There were about twenty of them. They tried to get in, but then the armed police came out from Squadron 18’s post, near our house, and they opened fire and used tear gas. I stress that it was only at us that they shot, not at the thugs. So we fled. The thugs went inside my house and they took everything: the television, food, everything.
The next day, they came back to start a fire. The armed police were with them. They stopped us from coming in to put out the fire. With my brother, we were able to get round to the other side with buckets of water and then the armed police brought out knives shouting: “we will kill you, we will kill you”. We escaped. A bit later, other armed police officers called the fire brigade to put out the fire.
“I heard: ‘shoot, shoot’!”
Alpha Ousmane Diallo is in high school.
On Saturday, around 3pm, a friend warned me that the armed police were ransacking my mother’s food shop. I went there. There were about fifteen of them wearing black t-shirts and uniform black trousers. When I tried to intervene, they shot into the air.
I turned round to run and escape. I heard: ‘shoot, shoot!’ There were two shots. The second one hit me in the shoulder and I fell down. I was rescued by neighbours who took me to hospital.
Video showing the bullet wound