Photos: 18 Killed By Police Fusillade in South Africa [PHOTOS]
By Eleazar David Meléndez | Aug 17, 2012 07:47 AM EDT
Eighteen people were killed by South African police during a wildcat mining strike Thursday, in an episode that was captured entirely by TV news cameras and has stunned the nation, reminding many of not-too-distant days when police would shoot at anti-apartheid protesters.
Police opened fire on a small group of strikers, downing dozens in a hail of bullets and dust. The group had broken off from a larger demonstration that included women and children, and numbered in the thousands. People in the larger march had been seen brandishing machetes, spears, sticks and wooden cudgels, but it is not clear any of the prostesters killed in the smaller group were armed.
Regardless, when the smaller march attempted to outflank a police vehicle that was laying barbed wires, police at first shot cannisters of tear gas, and then live ammunition, into the crowd.
It is not the first time violence broke out at the platinum mine where the strike is taking place -- where workers are asking for their salaries to be tripled. Ten people had been killed last week as part of a confrontation between rival unions.
South Africa is home to four-fifths of the world's platinum reserves.
Protesters striking at a platinum mine in South Africa Thursday. Many in the crowd were armed.Source: Reuters Date:08/17/2012
A protester striking at a platinum mine in South Africa Thursday.Source: Reuters Date:08/21/2012
Police and strikers initially kept their distance.Source: Reuters Date:08/17/2012
After a small group of strikers attempted to outflank a police vehicle laying barbed wire, officers opened fire.Source: Reuters Date:08/17/2012
A barrage from a line of officers covered the strikers in a cloud of bullets and dirt.Source: Reuters Date:08/17/2012
Some attempted to flee the fusillade, but were mowed down by police.Source: Reuters Date:08/17/2012
The images of the dead shocked South Africa.Source: Reuters Date:08/17/2012
Police moved in to attend to one of the wounded after the shooting had stopped.Source: Reuters Date:08/17/2012
It was not clear the killed strikers were armed. A Reuters photographer caught an officer apparently planting a weapon among the deceased after the shooting was over.Source: Reuters Date:08/17/2012