South Africa Cops Fire at Striking Miners

At least 7 reported killed
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2012 11:19 AM CDT
South Africa Cops Fire at Striking Miners
Police surround the bodies of striking miners after opening fire on a crowd at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012.   (AP Photo)

The death toll has risen to at least 17 in a week of clashes tied to a miners' strike in South Africa, the AP reports. At least seven people were killed after police fired at striking miners today. Officers, accompanied by armored vehicles, were setting up barbed wire near a platinum mine today as 3,000 workers protested. Details of what followed are murky: Reuters suggests that officers fired after several men appeared from behind a vehicle; the BBC cites reports that the machete-wielding protesters had ignored orders to drop their weapons.

Some type of projectiles—possibly grenades—were reportedly hurled at the police before the shooting. While the BBC reports seven dead, South African news says 18 bodies were found on the ground. Talks between police and the leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which backed most the strikers, yielded no progress, police say, forcing them to resort to force. "Today was, unfortunately, D-Day," said one. The violence comes amid a conflict between the more radical AMCU and the longstanding National Union of Mineworkers. (Read more South Africa stories.)

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