Police chief says 34 dead in mine shootings

Police chief Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega says 34 miners died and another 78 were wounded when police opened fire on strikers in one of the worst police shootings in South Africa since apartheid.

Phiyega told a news conference Friday that her officers acted to protect their own lives after strikers armed with "dangerous weapons" charged them Thursday. She said the strikers had not dispersed earlier, despite police use of water cannon and stun grenades.

President Jacob Zuma is coming home from a regional summit in neighboring Mozamqigue to address the crisis that is seen as deepening the rift between his scandal-plagued ruling party and an increasingly angry electorate confronting massive unemployment, poverty and inequality.