Miners killed at South Africa’s Lonmin Marikana mine
Police in South Africa have opened fire during clashes with striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine, leaving at least 12 people dead, witnesses say.
Police opened fire after miners carrying machetes, clubs and spears refused to disarm, eyewitnesses said.
A witness told the BBC he saw 18 bodies on the ground after the shooting.
The mine, owned by Lonmin, has been at the centre of a violent pay dispute, exacerbated by tensions between two rival trade unions.
Ten people had previously died in violence since the strike began last Friday.
The striking miners had gathered on a rocky hill overlooking Marikana, the third-largest platinum mine in the world.
At least 18 bodies were seen lying bloody and motionless on the ground after local police opened fire on striking miners, a South African news agency reports. Some of the protesters were allegedly armed with machetes and spears.
The incident is believed to have occurred after police, in the process of laying down barricades of barbed wire, were outflanked by a crowd of 3,000 demonstrators.
Nine people had been killed prior to Thursday’s clashes in a spate of protest in the mining town, located northwest of Johannesburg. The platinum mine, owned by Lonmin PLC, has been the focal point of protests over wage disputes since last Friday.
Fighting intensified over the weekend when two police officers were killed. Striking workers and local security guards have also been caught up in the violence.
Some 3,000 police massed in the area on Wednesday, some wearing riot gear and supported by helicopters. Demonstrators were reinforced on Thursday by a group of women pledging to stand by their husbands in their demand for increased wages.
Lonmin announced that the disruption means the company is unlikely to meet its 2012 production targets. Shares in the company have tumbled 6 percent following Thursday’s violence, bringing total losses since the outset of the strike to 13 percent.
At least 30 people were killed when police clashed with striking miners at South Africa’s Marikana mine on Thursday, the police minister has said.
According to witnesses, police opened fire on strikers armed mostly with clubs and machetes.
The Lonmin-owned platinum mine has been at the centre of a violent pay dispute, exacerbated by tensions between two rival trade unions.
Violence caused by the strike had already killed 10 people.
Speaking to local radio, police minister Nathi Mthethwa confirmed the death toll, adding: “A lot of people were injured and the number keeps on going up.”
The incident is one of the bloodiest in an industrial dispute since the end of apartheid in South Africa.
Police were sent to intervene after several thousand miners gathered at Marikana, which lies about 100 km north-west of Johannesburg, to call for a pay rise of over $1,000 (£636) a month.
people being killed in the relentless pursuit for platinum..at the cheapest wage possible..horrible..