- POSTED: 31 Aug 2014 06:49
Clashes between protesters and security forces in a Guinean city at the epicentre of the west African Ebola outbreak have left at least 55 wounded, the local government said on Saturday (Aug 30).
CONAKRY: Clashes between protesters and security forces in a Guinean city at the epicentre of the west African Ebola outbreak have left at least 55 wounded, the local government said on Saturday (Aug 30).
A curfew was imposed in N'Zerekore, Guinea's second-largest city, after two days of protests Thursday and Friday by market stall holders against a team of health workers sent, without notice, to spray their market with disinfectant.
Regional governor Lancei Conde said at least 27 law enforcement officers forces were among the wounded. "In N'zerekore and elsewhere, there are two camps - those who believe in the existence of Ebola and those who think that the epidemic is imported. Investigations are ongoing," he said.
City prefect Aboubacar M'bop Camara said protesters had "attacked the regional hospital's ambulance, UNICEF vehicles, the vehicle of the cardiologist at the regional hospital (and) the car of a private individual".
Local lawmaker Honomou Kourouma blamed the violence on former rebels, without specifying which groups he was referring to. "If the turmoil has caused enormous damage, it is due to the presence of suspicious troops populating the city," he told AFP. "It's no secret that former rebels are in N'zerekore. They are there in plain sight of everyone. They represent a threat to the city, the country and the region," he said.
The population of N'zerekore has more than doubled to 300,000 in the last two decades, due largely to refugees escaping civil wars in neighbouring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Kourouma's claim was dismissed by Camara, who nevertheless admitted that "security forces were targeted by gunfire".
More than 1,500 people had been confirmed dead from Ebola in four countries - Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, with Senegal announcing its first case on Friday. In Guinea, where the virus emerged at the start of the year, 430 people have died.