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Police patrol S.African mine after deathly clashes

Police were out in force on Tuesday patrolling a platinum mine run by leading producer Lonmin in South Africa where deadly clashes between rival unions left nine dead, a police spokesman said.

“Various police units were deployed” at the Marikana mine near Rustenburg in the North West province, police spokesman Dennis Adriao told AFP.

South Africa’s police chief Riah Phiyega and provincial police officials met with the mine’s management until the early morning hours Tuesday to discuss a plan to avert further violence, said Adriao.

Violent clashes broke out Sunday at the mine run by Lonmin, the world’s third largest platinum producer, in a battle for dominance between the leading National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the smaller Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

Nine people were killed, said Adriao, increasing an earlier tally.

“(There were) two police officers yesterday (Monday), then the three people who were involved in the attack on the policemen,” Adriao told AFP. Police shot dead the three in the skirmish in which the officers were stabbed and hacked to death.

“Two security guards and two other individuals were murdered over the weekend,” he added.

The clashes made front pages in the country’s main newspapers Tuesday, with images of helicopters and heavily armed policemen and paramedics tending to the wounded in front of the mine shafts.

Deadly clashes at South African mines have happened in the past during strikes over wages, when workers belonging to rival unions do not heed the strike call.

In February two workers were killed at a mine owned by Impala Platinum during a lengthy strike which shut down operations.

The mining sector is the biggest private employer in South Africa, which has one of the world’s most unionised workforces.