CONAKRY (AFP) – At least 10 people have been burned alive or hacked to death with machetes and dozens wounded in ethnic clashes in the west African state of Guinea, a local medic told AFP on Tuesday.
Clashes broke out in the southern forest region early Monday when petrol station guards from the Guerze tribe in the town of Koule accused an ethnic Konianke youth of stealing before torturing and beating him to death.
The violence spread to the nearby provincial capital N'Zerekore, 570 kilometres (350 miles) southeast of Conakry, leaving dozens injured and several homes destroyed.
"There are at least 10 dead, including two this morning and three last night," said Francois Lamah, a doctor from N'Zerekore, adding that there were over 60 wounded.
Lamah said hospital workers had not yet begun to establish an accurate death toll, as so many had been killed.
"Some were burned alive while others were cut with machetes. We are not able to manage. This situation is beyond us," he added.
A state radio correspondent in N'Zerekore said it was unlikely that an accurate death toll would be established as the bodies of many attacked by machetes had not been sent to hospital.
Security forces deployed to break up the fighting on Monday have been unable to restore calm in N'Zerekore despite a curfew imposed by the town's prefect Aboubacar Mbop Camara, who appealed for help and asked for reinforcements that have not yet arrived.
Communal violence is common in the region, near the border with Liberia, where clashes between the two tribes regularly break out over religious and other grievances.
The indigenous Guerze are mostly Christian or animist, while the Konianke -- seen as newcomers -- are Muslims considered to be close to Liberia's Mandingo ethnic community.
In Liberia's civil war, which ended in 2003, rebels fighting the forces of then president Charles Taylor drew much of their support from the Mandingo community.
The Guerze, known as Kpelle in Liberia, were generally considered to be supporters of forces loyal to Taylor, who was jailed last year for "aiding and abetting" war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone.