(Adds comment from RUSAL spokeswoman)
CONAKRY Feb 26 Protesters angered by the death
of a young man in police custody ransacked a police station and
government buildings in Guinea's main aluminium smelting town on
Wednesday, local residents said.
Work at Russian aluminium giant RUSAL's Friguia
refinery has been suspended since April 2012, hitting household
incomes hard and aggravating social unrest in the town of Fria,
160 km (99 miles) north of the capital Conakry.
Protesters threw stones and burned tyres in the town's
streets, before attacking the police station.
"The municipal police station is looted. The youth are in
the streets showing their anger after the death of their
friend," Fria resident Mamadou Gueye told Reuters.
"The few gendarmes and police officers who were on duty have
fled the city," he said.
It was unclear why the young man had been taken into custody
by the police. But town residents told Reuters he had been
beaten to death.
Government officials did not immediately respond to Reuters'
requests for comment.
"There are no authorities right now. We're not seeing the
mayor or the prefect ... no one," said a second Fria resident,
who asked not to be named.
The violence comes little over a week after two people were
killed and 30 others were injured when protests against frequent
power cuts in Conakry turned violent.
Guinea is the world's top supplier of bauxite, the raw
material used in aluminium production, but more than 40 percent
of the West African nation's citizens live on less than $1.25 a
RUSAL suspended operations at the 630,000 tonne-per-year
Friguia refinery amid a workers' strike over wages.
A spokeswoman for RUSAL said the strike was illegal. She
said the management of the refinery had been forced to leave
Fria due to security reasons while the control of the facility
was illegally taken over by the union.
A union spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Joe Bavier; editing by
Ralph Boulton and David Evans)