Guinea’s Death Toll Rises to 23 as Fuel Shortages Cause Tension

This image grab taken from AFPTV video footage on December 18, 2023 shows flames from the fire at Conakry’s main fuel depot . At least eight people were dead on December 18, 2023 after an explosion and fire at Guinea’s main fuel depot in the capital of Conakry, a hospital official told AFP. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

The government said that 23 people had died as a result of the explosion and fire at Guinea’s largest fuel store on Thursday. Meanwhile, in Conakry, security forces and youth groups protesting the scarcity of gasoline at service stations clashed.

The explosion and fire that occurred on Sunday night in the Kaloum port region, which is Conakry’s business and administrative district, resulted in significant material damage and completely stopped the economy.

In a statement aired on state television on Thursday night, the administration reported that the fire resulted in “23 deaths” and 241 injuries.

Of the 241 injured, 167 have returned to their homes and 74 are still in hospital, the government said in the statement.

“A large number of people have been reported missing. Investigations are underway” to clarify the situation, it added.

Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, the commander of Guinea’s ruling military, declared on Wednesday night that the country would observe three days of mourning beginning on Thursday in remembrance of the deaths.

The explosion and fire have severely damaged the nation’s infrastructure, rendered hundreds of homes homeless, and are still crippling the economy.

Diesel supply has resumed, according to the administration, but tanker limitations and gasoline distribution have remained in place since the event.

Tensions linked to the petrol shortage

Conflicts between security personnel and youth groups seeking gasoline at Conakry service stations on Thursday resulted from the lack of gasoline.An AFP correspondent reported that on Thursday afternoon, the defense troops, who had been heavily stationed, replied by shooting tear gas onto the mobile, stone-throwing teenagers who were engaged in intermittent confrontations.

The route connecting Conakry’s outskirts to the capital was blocked by hundreds of young people, the most of them were dressed in masks or balaclavas. This blockade was concentrated in the neighborhoods of Sonfonia, Wanindara, Kagbelen, Koloma, and Hamdallaye.

They set up barricades, overturned bins and burnt tyres.In Guinea, many young people live off motorbike taxi fares.

They are demanding the reopening of service stations for all types of fuel. “We can’t sell diesel and go without petrol. Most Guineans only use petrol,” chanted the protesters.”We want to work so that we can eat and feed our families, just like the authorities.

We don’t have anywhere to get money. We just want the government to fulfil its obligations. If they don’t, they should get out”, one of them told AFP.

Other demonstrations demanding petrol took place in the morning.

Concern over the censoring of some private media in Guinea and the limitations placed on social network access during this crisis has also been voiced by NGOs.

The Guinean Organization for the Defense of Human and Citizens’ Rights (OGDH) encouraged the government to support “a rapid end to the crisis” and reinstate access to social media and private media “in view of the role they play in keeping people informed throughout the country” in a press release.

Since the start of the year, there have been multiple instances of internet and/or social network access restrictions, unavailability of online news sites, and inaudibility and removal of radio stations from some broadcasting platforms.

The Haute Autorité de la Communication (HAC) ordered a number of distributors, including Canal+, to halt the transmission of private TV channels in December for “national security reasons”.

Written by PH

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