France welcomes arms embargo on Guinea

PARIS, Oct 18 (Reuters) - France expressed its support on Sunday for a West African arms embargo against Guinea, and said the perpetrators of a bloody crackdown on protesters there must be brought to justice.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed the embargo on Guinea on Saturday. It also threatened full sanctions on Niger if President Mamadou Tandja did not take steps to resolve the country's political crisis.

The French Foreign Ministry welcomed ECOWAS's support for an independent international investigation into the events in Guinea on Sept. 28, when more than 150 people died after gunmen used live rounds against protesters in a stadium.

"The international community's message is simple: murderers and rapists must be identified, judged and punished, just like the ones who ordered these acts," Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a statement.

International pressure has increased for Guinea's military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to step down after the incident, in which thousands were wounded.

The International Criminal Court is investigating the killings in Guinea's capital Conakry. Tensions after the violence have led France to advise its citizens to leave the country and the United States to withdraw diplomats' families.

Kouchner praised ECOWAS's efforts to revive political dialogue in Niger and protect the constitutional framework.

President Tandja held a referendum in August to change the constitution and give himself three more years in power. Parliamentary elections are due to take place on Tuesday, but protesters have demanded they be cancelled to allow a return to constitutional order. (Reporting by Sophie Hardach)