18 shot at in South Africa platinum mine conflict

August 17th, 2012 - 12:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Aug 17 (IANS) At least 18 people were shot and feared dead or injured in a conflict at a platinum mine in South Africa, media reports said.

The shooting took place at 4 p.m. as police attempted to disperse armed striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in the northern province of the North West, the South African Press Association (SAPA) quoted police as saying.

A witness claimed to have seen 18 bodies lying on the ground, reported Xinhua.

Paramedics attended to those hit during the shoot-out between police and armed miners.

Lonmin is reportedly the world’s third largest platinum producer with approximately 28,000 employees, and its operational headquarters is in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The miners had gathered on a hill at the mine since Monday, demanding the improvement of their working condition by raising their monthly salary from current about 4,000 to 12,500 rands (about $480 to $1,500).

The hill where the protesting miners gathered was cordoned off by police, and two helicopters were flying over the area.

Before the shooting happened, police issued an ultimatum for the protesting miners to come down from the hill and go home peacefully and surrender their weapons.

Early Thursday, the Longmin company issued a warning to striking miners to return to work within 24 hours or face dismissal.

Police said miners shot at them first before they opened fire, according to the report.

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