Gold rush in Guinea triggers bloodshed

Artisanal miners from Guinean villages often invade company pits when their own workings get flooded in the rainy season. (Reuters)
Updated 23 July 2018

Gold rush in Guinea triggers bloodshed

  • State hospital sources in Siguiri said that at least 23 people had been killed since the start of the year
  • Mining-Technology.com has reported numerous clashes between the miner AngloGold Ashanti and some groups of artisanal miners

CONAKRY: At least 23 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a gold rush in northern Guinea that has led to hundreds of shooting incidents, according to hospital and security sources.
“Our services recorded 313 shootings from January 1 to June 30, in which about 20 people died and dozens of others were wounded,” a senior state official said.
State hospital sources in Siguiri, a town on the Niger river near the border with Mali, said on Friday that at least 23 people had been killed since the start of the year.
“The number of casualties may be higher because some of the wounded are being treated in private clinics and there are also corpses which are still lying on the ground,” the head of emergency services at the regional hospital, Balla Moussa Keita, told AFP.
“The Siguiri region has abundant deposits of gold — it is the most dangerous part of the country,” the state official told AFP.
The violence is due “not only to the riches beneath the soil, which attract gangsters, but also due to repeated clashes between villagers over land rights, as well as the influx of clandestine diggers from every neighboring country,” he added.
“The villagers are armed, the clandestine arrivals are armed and the mining zones are over-crowded,” he warned.
Guinea has gold, diamonds, bauxite and prodigious reserves of iron ore.
In Kouremale, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Siguiri, clashes erupted during a wedding procession by Malians in Guinean territory, leaving one person dead and numerous injured, according to the Guinean authorities.
A violent dispute between gold diggers in November last year at the mining site of Niaouleni, another border area, left at least six dead.
Neighbouring Mali has recently been affected by armed extremist activity, while Liberia and Sierra Leone to the south both endured long civil wars that lasted into the early years of the 21st century and left the region awash with weapons.
Specialist website Mining-Technology.com has reported “numerous clashes between the miner AngloGold Ashanti and some groups of artisanal miners who have been found operating beyond the traditional orpaillage (gold washing) system and therefore agreed areas.”
Artisanal miners from local villages have invaded company pits in large numbers when their own workings get flooded in the rainy season, the report added.


10,000 homeless after fire razes Bangladesh slum

Updated 12 min 24 sec ago

10,000 homeless after fire razes Bangladesh slum

  • The fire broke out at in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighborhood late on Friday and razed around 2,000 mostly tin shacks
  • Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures

DHAKA: At least 10,000 people are homeless after a massive fire swept through a crowded slum in the Bangladesh capital and destroyed thousands of shanties, officials said Sunday.
The fire broke out at in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighborhood late on Friday and razed around 2,000 mostly tin shacks, fire services official Ershad Hossain said.
“I could not salvage a single thing. I don’t know what will I do,” 58-year-old Abdul Hamid, who ran a tea stall inside the slum, said as he broke down in tears.
Authorities eventually got the blaze under control and no-one was killed, although several people had minor injuries, firefighters said.
Many residents — largely low-income garment factory workers — were not in the slum as they had left their homes to celebrate the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday with their families.
“Otherwise, the damage would have been bigger,” local police chief Golam Rabbani said.
Around 10,000 people have taken refuge in crammed camps at nearby schools closed for the weeklong holiday, according to Hossain.
“We are providing them with food, water, mobile toilets, and electricity supply,” municipal official Shafiul Azam said, adding that authorities were trying to find permanent accommodation.
Some families have erected tarpaulins to shelter them from bouts of rain during the monsoon season, but the wet conditions have turned the fields muddy.
Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures.
At least 100 people have been killed so far this year in building fires across the densely populated metropolitan city.
In 2012, a fire swept through a nine-story garment factory near Dhaka killing 111 workers. An investigation found it was caused by sabotage and that managers at the plant had prevented victims from escaping.
A 2010 fire in Nimtoli, one of the most densely populated districts of the capital, killed 123 people.