CONAKRY (Reuters) - Youths, defying a government ban on demonstrations, clashed with security forces in Guinea’s coastal capital Conakry on Monday as opposition leaders called for nationwide protests against the timing of elections.
A government statement said 14 people including 12 security officers were wounded. Opposition leader Mouctar Diallo said 30 people were wounded including seven shot, one of whom is in critical condition.
Some youths erected barricades of logs and burning tyres, others threw stones and fired catapults at security forces who were trying to clear them out with tear gas.
Residents in Conakry’s Koloma neighbourhood reported hearing gunfire in the early afternoon as police and gendarmes moved back into areas they had been forced out of.
“Reinforcements apparently arrived. From my house I can see a big truck of security agents parked nearby. I heard several gunshots. I‘m scared,” Koloma resident Nenen Barry told Reuters.
Government deputy spokesman Moustapha Naite said he did not know who had fired the shots and raised the prospect that gunmen may have infiltrated the protests to escalate the disorder.
“The opposition wants to push us to make a mistake, to create a deadly incident. We’re not going to oblige them,” he said.
A separate government statement reported protests, some of them authorised, in a handful of places outside Conakry. It said two civilians had been injured but gave no further details.
Guinea’s presidential election on Oct. 11, announced by the electoral commission in March, broke a 2013 agreement to stage long-delayed local polls first, the opposition says.
Analysts say holding local polls first would give President Alpha Conde’s rivals more influence in organising the presidential election. Diallo said police had deployed around the homes of the leading political activists on Monday.
“That will not stop our protests from taking place in Conakry and across the country,” he said.
Weeks of demonstrations have left at least four people dead and many more injured, according to opposition leaders, who say security forces have fired live rounds during clashes.
The government says three have died and rejects accusations that shots have been fired at protesters. Authorities say police officers have been shot at during the demonstrations.
The governor of Conakry said the opposition had failed to obtain official permission for Monday’s protests.
Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Toni Reinhold