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.


Afghan father’s perilous motorbike school run to realize daughter’s medical dream

Updated 50 min 47 sec ago

Afghan father’s perilous motorbike school run to realize daughter’s medical dream

  • Devoted dad overcomes strict traditions on female roles in hope of seeing girl become town’s first female doctor

PAKISTAN: Devoted Afghan dad Mia Khan has been hailed for going the extra mile to help his daughter achieve her dream of becoming a doctor.

Every day, the daily wage laborer, from Sharan city in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province, travels 12 km on his motorcycle to take Rozai to school.

And when classes end, he is there for the long and hazardous journey home through tough borderland terrain.

“You know, we don’t have any female doctors in our town. It is my ultimate wish to see my daughter as its first female doctor. I want her to serve humanity,” Khan told Arab News.

Paktika shares a 300 km border with Pakistan’s newly merged tribal districts of North and South Waziristan and parts of Balochistan province, where powerful patriarchal norms still dictate most women’s lives.

But Rozai and her father are determined to buck the trend through her tuition at Nooranya School, a community educational institution built by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan.

Rozai told Arab News: “We have to travel a long distance and I would like for a school to be established closer to our home. We are often tired (from our journey) when we arrive at school and sometimes, we are late.”

Saif-ur-Rehman Shahab, a representative of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, told Arab News that Khan, who has for years taken his children to school on a motorcycle, deserved all the plaudits he could get. Khan has two sons and seven daughters.

“Khan gets his children, specifically his daughter Rozai, educated in a very challenging situation. We have deteriorating security and poor awareness about girls’ education here. Khan is facing acute financial challenges working as a daily wage laborer. I deeply appreciate him for facing all these challenges boldly to educate his daughter,” Shahab said.

Hikmat Safi, an adviser to Afghanistan’s chief executive, said Khan’s passion was an inspiration to others. “Amid brewing insecurity coupled with cultural limitations, this is a really positive change when people like Khan come out to educate their children, primarily daughters.”

Nooranya School has 220 female students and is one of hundreds of community-based classes and schools, predominantly attended by girls, set up by the committee in various parts of Paktika province.