- The controversial unsettled issues of mutinous Guinean troops have sparked further violence in the country's capital, Conakry. Soldiers blocked all routes leading to administrative districts in the continuing dispute over army pay and work conditions. Foreigners are now advised against travelling to Conakry.
The pay protest, which began on Monday in the mineral rich country, has seen troops go on rampage in shooting at locations across the city and putting up roadblocks at the entrance of the city.
The row erupted despite newly elected Guinea Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souaré's announcement that troops would receive a little over US$ 1,000 and rice subsidies in an effort to stop the unrest.
Mutinous soldiers from Alpha Yaya Diallo barracks in the capital looted shops and took captive the deputy head of the army, General Mamadou Sampil, who attempted to negotiate with them in their camp on Monday.
Late on Wednesday, some soldiers forced their way on to an airport runway, preventing a US military plane from landing. This led to cancellation of at least two commercial flights in the country. An Air France flight headed towards Conakry international airport on Wednesday evening had to divert to Dakar, Senegal.
The new clashes in Guinea have left at least three people dead and dozens hurt as troops looted and robbed civilians. While the situation remains very tense, loyalist troops are now said to be in control of most of Conakry, patrolling streets.
A statement released by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) today, expressed "great concern" about the reported unrest by rebellious army, saying it might put the safety and security of civilian population at risk in Guinea and in the region.
ECOWAS heads of state also appealed to all Guineans to act with "a high sense of responsibility" and to halt actions that would "plunge their country and its neighbours into conflict and instability." They especially raised concerns over the fragile peace situation in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile, foreign observers fear the crisis in Guinea could deepen and be of long duration. The British Foreign Office already yesterday issued an updated travel warning on Guinea for its citizens, advising "against all but essential travel to Guinea." The British warning added that the Conakry airport "is currently open but further disturbances may occur. You should exercise extreme caution in all areas near military camps."
Although Guinea's mineral wealth makes it potentially one of Africa's richest countries, its population remains one of the poorest in the continent having been ruled by armed leaders since independence.
Guinea's current President Lansana Conté seized power in a bloodless coup in 1984 and has ruled with an iron fist ever since. In early 2007, the country faced violent protests and a general strike against his rule.
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