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More than 30 miners killed by police at South African platinum mine

17 August 2012

At least 30 people have been killed in deadly clashes at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana near South Africa's capital Pretoria on August 16. The NUM union said 36 were killed and many others injured.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the mine shootings
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the mine shootings

Police opened fire with automatic weapons when 3,000 striking drill operators ignored orders to disperse.

Police commissioner Riah Phiyega said police had been forced to shoot after armed protesters charged them, "firing shots". At least 78 people were injured in the confrontation, she added.

Unions are demanding an inquiry into the incident - one of the bloodiest police operations since apartheid.

The massacre follows the deaths of ten people earlier in the week, including two policemen, during fighting between rival AMCU and NUM unions. The policemen were hacked to death with machetes.

The miners had been protesting since the start of the week on a hilltop near the mine, some armed with guns and machetes, demanding higher wages.

South Africa is home to 80% of the world's known platinum reserves, but rising power and labour costs and a steep decline in the price of the precious metal this year has left many mines struggling to stay afloat.

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