As many as four people are said to have been killed, 69 injured after tensions in the Forest region of Guinea erupted into violence earlier this month.
Guinea - The violence broke out in N’zérékoré, sited in southeastern Guinea, grounding United Nations humanitarian relief efforts. All but a few humanitarian and security missions were halted by the U.N., who also ordered employees in the Forest region of the area to stay indoors. Supplies sent in by the World Health Organization (WHO) were stuck hundreds of miles away in Guéckédou. The violence has been taking place between area Muslims and Christians.
This latest unrest follows on the heels of last year's bloody attack on protesters by government forces in the capital city, Conakry, where up to 150 people were believed to have been killed at the hands of soldiers. The soldiers are also accused of having committed violent rapes during the attack.
While religious and government leaders and a government delegation have been advocating for calm and peace in N’zérékoré, shortly after a curfew was lifted violence broke out again over the weekend. According to Reuters, witnesses said the army fired their guns "... into the air on Sunday afternoon to try to disperse roving mobs of people armed with machetes and knives."
Shops in the city reportedly opened again on Monday, but the situation is still tense. The United Nations is warning the violence"... has exposed the country's vulnerability to a major humanitarian crisis." Philippe Verstraeten, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Guinea told Reuters "It is a fragile region that can be explosive given that it is at the junction of three countries that are just recovering from war - Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast."
However, characterizing the conflict as religious appears to be misleading. Reports from Africa say N’zérékoré is the birthplace of former ruler, Moussa Dadis Camara. Apparently a portion of the population are upset that Camara's power has been curbed. Still, there is one more dimension adding to the complexity of the violent chaos gripping this area of Guinea - the clashing groups comprise three different ethnic groups.
Elections in Guinea are to take place within the next six months. Last fall, protesters had taken to the streets after Camara said he would run in the upcoming election. With Camara out of the picture after an assassination attempt wounded him, the ruling Junta appointed opposition leader Jean-Marie Dore to act as the interim Prime Minister. Shot by his own aide-de-camp, Camara has since recovered, and has pledged his support for the civilian rule of Guinea.
Criminal investigations were to be held into the massacre of protesters last fall in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, and there is a rumour that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has sent a delegation to Guinea to begin the investigation.
In an announcement made Monday, the acting president, General Sékouba Konaté appointed the female labour leader Rabiatou Serah Dialloas as President of the Transitional Council. The Council will manage the country's move to civilian rule.
Also on Monday, the United Nations announced the appointment of Senegal's General Lamine Cisse to oversee the restructuring of Guinea's army.
Guinea has been governed by a military Junta ever since Camara took control of the government in 2008.
A Guinea-led inquiry cleared Camara of any wrongdoing in the September Conakry massacre. Camara remains in Burkino Faso, where he was taken after he was shot.