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The U.N. Security Council has expressed its concern about the killing of scores of protesters in the West African nation of Guinea on Monday during an anti-government rally in the capital, Conakry.
The Security Council was briefed on Wednesday on the situation in a closed session by U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios.
After the meeting, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who chairs the council this month, told reporters that the 15-member body expressed its "utmost concern" at the reports of the killings and injuries, as well as reports of rapes on the capital's streets.
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"The members of the council urge the authorities in Guinea, without delay, to put an end to the violence, bring the perpetrators to justice, release all political prisoners, opposition leaders and individuals who are being denied due process under the law, and to allow a prompt return to the rule of law, democracy and constitutional order through elections as scheduled in 2010," said Susan Rice.
Guinean security forces are accused of attacking a crowd of about 50,000 people who had gathered at a stadium in Conakry on Monday to protest Captain Moussa Dadis Camara's presumed intention to run for president.
Mr. Camara seized power in a military coup last December, after the death of Guinea's long-time president, Lansana Conte.
Ambassador Rice said the Security Council supports the strong public statements on the situation by the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, and the African Union.
She noted that the African Union is preparing a report on developments in Guinea and possible measures to be taken - including sanctions. ECOWAS has also called for a full international investigation into events.
The Security Council and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have called on Mr. Camara's National Council for Democracy and Development to respect its prior commitment that it will not field candidates in the upcoming elections.