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Shots fired in Guinea town, religious tension rises

By on February 7, 2010

Gunshots were fired on Saturday in the southern Guinean town where Christians and Muslims clashed earlier this week, witnesses said.

There was no official word on any deaths or injuries, but residents of Nzerekore reported widespread gunfire, a day after several people had been wounded by stone-throwing.

The town is in the home region of junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara, whose wounding in an assassination bid last December has led to steps aimed at moving toward civilian rule in the West African state, the world’s biggest baxuite exporter.

“It’s not going well. There’s shooting everywhere. We are hiding in our house,” said Nzerekore resident Cecile Kolie.

Tensions in Nzerekore, a Christian enclave in the mainly Muslim country, rose last week after a Christian woman was accused of wearing indecent dress while passing by Muslims at prayer.

“We’ve heard gunshots,” said Salimou Koyate, another resident of the town, almost 1,000 km from the capital Conakry.

“There is a strong military presence. There is a curfew, and soliders are stopping people from going out after 7 pm (1900 GMT),” he said.

While the dispute appeared to have a mainly religious dimension, many locals have been angered by the sidelining from power of Camara, a member of one of the minority “forestier” ethnic groups of the region.

Camara, who has been held responsible by a U.N. report for the killings of over 150 pro-democracy marchers in Conakry last September, is still convalescing in Burkina Faso after sustaining head wounds in a December 3 gun attack by an ex-aide.

Last month in Nigerian town Jos, more than 400 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians.


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