(Reuters) – Guinean security forces clashed with anti-government protesters in the opposition stronghold of Labe on Thursday, beating one man to death, the government said.
“His friends got away but he was captured and beaten in the heat of the moment. He didn’t survive his injuries and is dead,” said Moustapha Naite, deputy government spokesman.
The demonstrators, protesting against a delay in holding local elections in the west African country, erected makeshift barricades in Labe, several hundred kilometers northeast of Conakry, and threw rocks at police who responded with tear gas.
“It is currently really tense in Labe,” Naite said, adding that the authorities were trying to calm the situation.
Hundreds of people also marched in the capital Conakry as well as the cities of Kindia and Dabola as part of a nationwide protest, considered illegal by the government, against the timing of elections.
The opposition accuses the government of breaking a promise it made in 2013 to hold a long-delayed local ballot before a presidential vote due in October this year.
President Alpha Conde told journalists during a visit to Paris on Wednesday that there were no plans to change the electoral calendar.
In Conakry’s suburb of Bambeto, residents said they heard a spurt of gunfire at noon, without specifying the origin.
A local radio station Lynx FM said that several people with bullet injuries had been brought into a local clinic in the capital, although this could not be independently verified.
“Since this morning, we are trying to stop protesters from gathering. Whenever we see a group we try to disperse them rapidly,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity. He said he was not aware of reports of gunfire.
Protests earlier this month turned violent and the opposition accuses security forces of firing live rounds at protesters, wounding several people. The government denies this.
Presidential and legislative elections since 2010, when Guinea emerged from decades of military rule, have been marred by violent protests, with parties divided along ethnic lines.
Members of the opposition said on Thursday that police forces were surrounding the houses of their leaders to prevent them from participating in the protest.