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At least two killed in Guinea political rioting

By Staff
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CONAKRY, Feb 22 (Reuters) At least two people were killed in southeast Guinea when police clashed with crowds protesting the appointment of a mayor from the West African country's ruling party, officials said today.

Protests entered a third day in Gueckedou after town councillors named a Progress and Unity Party (PUP) mayor on Monday, after its landslide victory in local elections in December which the opposition say were rigged.

''There are two dead and some wounded,'' Sekou Konate, PUP secretary-general, told Reuters.

The governor of Nzerekore state, Colonel Lamine Bangoura, rushed to the town in a bid to calm the situation, government sources said. Gueckedou is situated in a jungle region 670 km (420 miles) from the capital Conakry.

Jean Marie Dore, leader for the opposition union for Progress in Guinea, said the death toll was higher.

''There are six dead and the prefect has fled. The governor's mediation has failed. There is shooting everywhere,'' he told Reuters.

In January, Guinea's parliamentary opposition pulled its members from the National Assembly in protest at the alleged vote rigging in the Dec. 18 polls in the former French colony.

President Lausana Conte has ruled Guinea since a 1984 coup.

Despite containing nearly a third of the world's reserves of bauxite -- the raw material for aluminium -- about half of Guinea's 8 million people survive on less than a dollar a day.

Reuters PDS VP0200

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