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Riots And Unrest After 23 People Killed In Oil Depot Explosion In Guinea

In a devastating turn of events, Guinea faced a tragic explosion at its main fuel depot in the Kaloum district near the port of Conakry, resulting in 23 fatalities and 241 injuries. The incident, which occurred early on Monday, has ignited protests and clashes between protesting youths and security forces, demanding the restoration of petrol supplies at service stations across the country.

According to AFP, the unrest escalated in Guinea's capital, Conakry, as hundreds of demonstrators, many of them masked or hooded, set up roadblocks, overturned dustbins, and burned tires. Sporadic clashes erupted in the afternoon, with youths throwing stones and security forces responding with tear gas, creating a tense atmosphere in the city.

The government, in response to the tragedy, announced three days of national mourning from Thursday. Investigations into the incident are ongoing to determine whether more victims remain missing. The explosion not only claimed lives but also caused significant damage to buildings, blowing out windows and forcing residents to flee, bringing life in the city center to a standstill.

Service stations were temporarily closed across the country, leading to widespread discontent among the populace, particularly motorbike taxi operators who depend on petrol for their livelihoods. Despite the government's announcement of the resumption of diesel fuel supplies, the distribution of petrol remains suspended, prompting protesters to voice their frustrations.

"You can't sell diesel and deprive us of petrol. Most Guineans only use petrol," chanted the demonstrators. They called for the reopening of service stations for all types of fuel, emphasizing the impact on their ability to work and provide for their families.

Taxi drivers were caught in the chaos as protesters blocked roads and clashed with security forces. Diao Balde, a taxi driver caught in the turmoil, said, "I can't keep driving in these conditions. I'm going to park my diesel-powered vehicle to avoid any trouble." Taxi drivers faced a difficult situation as they struggled to navigate the protests and roadblocks while trying to avoid confrontation with demonstrators.

Amidst the crisis, rights groups have raised concerns about restrictions imposed on privately owned media and social media. Samira Daoud, the director of Amnesty International's office for West and Central Africa, stated in a press release, "Violations of the right to freedom of expression are now permanent, in addition to those of the right to peaceful assembly."

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