CONAKRY, July 17 Guinea deployed security forces
to towns in the southeast on Wednesday in a bid to stem three
days of ethnic violence in the West African country in which at
least 17 people have been killed, officials said.
Guinea's second city of Nzerekore and the surrounding region
near the border with Ivory Coast have been gripped by clashes
between local communities after a man accused of being a thief
was lynched on Sunday.
Government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said the toll
rose to 17 after a death was reported on Wednesday in Beyla, a
town near Nzerekore. About 90 people have been injured, he said.
"We fear that this toll will rise," Camara added.
After several days of fighting between ethnic gangs,
residents said security forces arrived in Nzerekore, Beyla and
nearby Koule, where the initial killing took place.
"The soldiers are trying to stop people from leaving their
homes so they can try to control the situation," Nzerekore
resident Ousmane Balde told Reuters.
The violence came shortly after Guinea's rival political
parties agreed to hold legislative elections on Sept. 24 after
months of deadlock and street protests, which often degenerated
into ethnic clashes.
The poll is meant to be the final step in the return to
civilian rule after a 2008 coup.
President Alpha Conde won a 2010 presidential election but
his rivals accuse him of seeking to rig the legislative vote.
Conde draws support from Guinea's second-largest ethnic group,
the Malinke, while the opposition is backed by the Peul, who
account for around 40 percent of the population.
Mineral-rich Guinea is the world's largest bauxite exporter,
and mining firms have signed multi-billion dollar deals in a bid
to secure untapped mineral riches, especially iron ore. However,
political instability has led to some investment being frozen.
(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by