Two people died Thursday in clashes between anti-junta protesters and security forces in Guinea, a municipal official and relatives of the deceased told AFP, with the country’s opposition coalition reporting “many arrests” and injuries from live ammunition.
Protesters took to the streets to demand a return to civilian rule, and the release of arrested activists and other political prisoners under the military junta that seized power in the West African nation in 2021.
Young demonstrators hurled stones and erected barricades in the suburbs of the capital Conakry as police officers and gendarmes fired tear gas to try to disperse them. Gunfire was also heard.
Abdoul Karim Bah told AFP his 18-year-old nephew had been shot in the neighbourhood of Hamdallaye and died before he reached hospital.
He said the teenager was not taking part in the protest but was working in the area as a motorcycle taxi driver when he was killed.
Another victim, who was 16 years old, was shot in the Sonfonia neighbourhood, according to his father, Mamadou Diallo. He was taken to hospital and later died of his injuries, the father said.
Cellou Kansala Diallo, vice-mayor of the Conakry suburb of Ratoma, confirmed both deaths.
The West African country’s ruling military junta has been in power since a 2021 coup toppled former president Alpha Conde.
Last May, it announced a three-year ban on all demonstrations likely to “hinder activities.”
The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups, has nonetheless called several protests, several of which have resulted in civilian deaths.
The FNDC said earlier that around 30 people sustained injuries, some from gunshot wounds, and reported “many arrests”.
Several journalists and eyewitnesses reported the presence of soldiers among the security forces, supporting social media accounts and the FNDC, which said the authorities had resorted to army units for reinforcement.
Alseny Sall, spokesman for the Guinean Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights, said using the army was “a concerning situation… we don’t understand what can justify such a decision”.
An AFP journalist said that soldiers harassed and insulted him and that his camera’s memory card was seized.
The authorities have not commented on the events.
The junta, led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, has ordered the dissolution of the FNDC and pledged to restore civilian rule after implementing government reforms.
The transition period was fixed at two years beginning from January this year following pressure from the regional ECOWAS bloc, which has also had to deal with coups in Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020.
Guinea’s opposition — which accuses the junta of crushing dissent — has refused to engage with the regime on the terms of the transition period.