x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

South African police claim self-defence as mine protest leaves 34 dead

So far 259 people have been arrested on various charges stemming from the clash Thursday at the platinum mine run by London-listed Lonmin.

MARIKANA // South Africa's national police chief said Friday that her forces opened fire in self-defence after coming under attack from armed mine workers, leaving 34 people dead and 78 injured.

"The militant group stormed toward the police, firing shots and wielding dangerous weapons," Riah Phiyega told a news conference.

"Police retreated systematically and were forced to utilise maximum force to defend themselves. The total death of the protesters currently stands at 34 with more than 78 injured."

So far 259 people have been arrested on various charges stemming from the clash Thursday at the platinum mine run by London-listed Lonmin, she said.

Police played video footage of their efforts to disperse striking miners, including a series of negotiations and crowd-control tactics including firing teargas, water cannons, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

In one video, an officer begged the miners to disperse, saying: "We are not here to arrest you, our only problem is with the weapons."

Phiyega said police initially tried to break up the crowd into smaller groups to make them easier to disarm, but the miners refused to heed to calls to disperse and lay down their weapons.