October 5, 2015 / 10:38 AM / 4 years ago

Dozens injured in Guinea pre-election clashes

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Dozens of people were hurt during fighting over the weekend between rival political groups, before a presidential election scheduled for Oct. 11, local authorities said on Monday.

Supporters of different parties clashed on Friday and Saturday in the city of Nzerekore in Guinea’s Forest Region during a visit by President Alpha Conde. Residents say calm was restored by a series of arrests and the imposition of a curfew.

“The situation is very, very serious. We have 29 people with gunshot injuries,” Aboubacar Mbopp Camara, prefect for Nzerekore, told reporters.

Medical charity Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) said on its Twitter feed on Monday that around 80 people were admitted to its local hospital. They suffered a range of injuries from bullets, stones and batons, it said.

Local papers said one person had died from his injuries, although this could not be independently verified.

The riots pitted supporters of Conde’s Rally of the Guinean People (RPG) party against those of his main rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), residents said.

Guinea, a former French colony and Africa’s largest producer of bauxite, has a long history of ethnic tensions.

Conde, who is favored to win next week’s vote, draws support from his Malinke ethnicity. Diallo enjoys backing from the Peuhl, who account for 40 percent of Guinea’s population.

The European Union in a statement described the election campaign as “extremely tense” and called on actors to refrain from violence.

Opposition parties have asked for polls to be postponed to address alleged irregularities in the process.

Reporting by Saliou Samb; Additional reporting and writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Larry King

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