UN rights chief warns against election violence in Guinea

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The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday that security forces in Guinea committed serious rights violations when they tried to quell election protests earlier this week.

"OHCHR believes the security forces committed serious human rights violations by indiscriminatingly shooting at unarmed civilians -- sometimes at point-blank range -- and by breaking into and ransacking private homes, and severely beating young men who were not offering resistance," said spokesman Rupert Colville.

Colville called on political leaders to restrain their supporters, both within the security forces and among the general population, while still respecting the right of people to rally peacefully.

On Tuesday, supporters of former prime minister and presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo clashed with the security forces, who used live ammunition and wounded several dozen people, according to witnesses and medical sources.

Two people were killed.

Colville said there was particular concern that members of security forces who took part in the police operations this week included the special police unit that was formed and trained to secure the electoral process.

A second round of voting in the west African country's presidential election is due to take place on Sunday, but appeared likely to be delayed amid mutual accusations of violence by rival parties.

© 2010 AFP

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