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Six arrested in S.African mine clashes

Six South African mine workers were arrested after deadly clashes between rival unions at a Lonmin Platinum mine left 10 people dead and shut down operations, police said Thursday.

“So far we’ve arrested six people for different charges,” said North West province police chief Zukiswa Mbombo.

“Charges range from intimidation to public violence, assault and so on,” she told AFP.

The men, aged from 20 to 35 years, were arrested on Monday and Tuesday. None had been charged with murder.

A group of men with machetes, iron rods and sticks gathered outside the London-listed firm’s mine near the town Rustenburg about 100 kilometres (65 miles) from Johannesburg on Thursday, Sapa news agency reported.

Trouble at the mine erupted last Friday when hundreds of rock drill operators launched a wildcat strike.

Some are demanding that their wages are more than tripled, from 4,000 rand ($488, 397 euros) to 12,500 rand a month.

Clashes broke out over the weekend between members of the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the powerful National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Ten people were killed in violent skirmishes, including two police officers.

Work has been halted at the mine, dealing another blow to an already struggling industry which saw several platinum mines shut down since June.

South Africa has around 87 percent of the world’s platinum resources and is the largest producer of the metal, used in vehicle catalytic converters to cut pollution.

In February, two workers were killed at a mine owned by Impala Platinum during clashes between the rival unions, but the Lonmin violence is the deadliest yet.

The mining sector is the biggest private employer in South Africa, whose workforce is among the most unionised in the world.