Guinean forces helped in ethnic violence: UN rights office

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Guinean security forces not only used excessive force in their post-election crackdown this week but some even collaborated with attackers who carried out ethnically-motivated violence, the UN human rights office said Friday.

"The focus of our intervention here is particularly the security forces -- in some of the incidents listed here, it is very clear that they are siding with one group against the other, not simply acting to prevent violence or bring calm," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"According to victims interviewed by OHCHR, red beret troops have been collaborating with groups of ethnic Malinke youth to target property and homes owned by members of the Peul (Fulani) ethnic group," noted the spokesman.

The office also documented an instance where agents from the special election security force (FOSSEPEL) assisted attackers to loot two homes belonging to Peul families, instead of protecting the victims.

"OHCHR urges the authorities and security forces, political leaders and their activists to refrain from violence and from inciting ethnic hatred," said Colville.

He added that UN officials had documented "numerous allegations of human rights violations" including an instance when a 16-year-old boy was killed by a red beret soldier who opened fire at close range.

It also listed another example of police officers climbing out of a pick-up while shouting "we will kill everybody."

They then seized an 18-year-old boy, beat him with their rifle butts, before executing him in front of witnesses.

"OHCHR Human Rights Officers witnesses heavily armed red beret soldiers and FOSSEPEL police and gendarmes brutally beating, arresting and shooting at unarmed civilians in various locations," Colville said.

"The FOSSEPEL (Force speciale de securisation du processus electoral) agents in particular, completely disregarded the presence of OHCHR and international journalists at the scene," he added.

Troubles flared in Conakry after Alpha Conde -- a Malinke, was declared winner of Sunday's election and defeated candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo -- a Fulani, claimed voter fraud. The International Crisis Group said 12 people had been killed in post-election violence.

© 2010 AFP

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