At least six Guineans have been killed during violent protest rallies calling for the reopening of schools amid a weeks-long strike by teachers.
The government said in a statement that the protests, which rocked various neighborhoods of the Guinean capital of Conakry on Monday, also left at least 30 people injured, including members of the police force.
“Our capital was the scene of unauthorized and illegal protests” to call for the reopening of schools, the government said.
Government centers, small stores and gas stations remained closed Monday amid fears that there would be looting by the protesters, mostly young students.
Teachers’ unions in the West African country have been on strike since February 1 to demand a pay raise and better working conditions as well as the full integration of contracted teachers, who are not full time, in the public school system.
During the Monday rallies, the protesting students shouted, “Where will we go to class? There is no activity in the country.”
The demonstrators also set fire to tires and threw them into the streets, prompting police to respond by firing tear gas.
The Guinean authorities arrested at least 12 people on Monday.
According to a hospital source, four men, including two young people, and one woman were shot dead during the clashes. Another young man was hit by a bus as he attempted to flee the violence, a police official said.
The government said the demonstrations turned violent despite a deal reached “with the unions after many days of negotiations” on Sunday night.
However, the unions said Monday that the strike would continue until their demand for a pay raise of between 7.5 and 10.3 percent is met.
“We will continue to strike, and we then also demand the resumption of courses by licensed educated contractors,” union spokesman Aboubacar Soumah said.