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South African Police Opens Fire on Striking Miners

Police in South Africa have opened fire during clashes with striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine, leaving at least seven people dead, witnesses say.

Police opened fire after miners carrying machetes defied an ultimatum to disarm, reports from the scene say.

The mine, owned by Lonmin, has been at the centre of a violent industrial dispute exacerbated by inter-union tensions.

Ten people had previously died as a result of clashes since last Friday.

During the clashes, missiles - thought to be either petrol bombs or grenades - were thrown at police, who responded by opening fire, eyewitnesses said.

"There are bodies on the ground; I saw one with a bullet wound on the forehead," one eyewitness told the BBC.

The recent violence was initially thought to have been triggered by a turf war between the long-established National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the newly-formed Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which is more militant.

However, the AMCU has since demanded a pay rise of 12,000 rand ($1,500; £930) per month.

Lonmin said in a statement on Thursday that any striking workers who did not return to work by Friday would be sacked.

The company said it had missed six days of production as a result of the unrest, and estimated it would lose around 2% of its normal yearly output of saleable platinum.

The violence has shocked South Africans, with many finding the scenes reminiscent of how the apartheid regime dealt with protests, the BBC's Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg reports.----


Added: Aug-16-2012 Occurred On: Aug-16-2012
World News
Tags: south, africa, police, shoot, miners, strike
Location: South Africa (load item map)
Views: 6471 | Comments: 10 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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