The United States has condemned the Guinean military's brazen and inappropriate use of force against demonstrators in Conakry Monday. News reports say at least 157 people were killed and more than 1,200 others wounded in a confrontation in the capital of the west African state.
The United States has joined the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations and others in condemning the attack by troops on civilians in Conakry Monday, one of the most severe incidents of violence in the region in many years.
Troops of the presidential guard of the country's military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, are reported to have opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators who had gathered in Conakry to protest his plans to run in presidential elections in January.
When he took power in a coup last December, Captain Camara - who has ruled the country in an erratic fashion - had said no one on his ruling junta would run for public office.
A written statement by State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said the United States condemns the Guinean military's brazen and inappropriate use of force against civilians, and also took note of reports that military personnel carried out brutal rapes and sexual assaults on women protestors and bystanders.
Kelly called for the immediate release of opposition leaders and a return to civilian rule in Guinea as soon as possible and said the United States insists that junta members respect their commitments not to contest the upcoming elections.
Earlier Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley said the casualty reports from Conakry were a matter of great concern to the Obama administration.
"We are deeply concerned about the general breakdown of security in Conakry," said P.J. Crowley. "We encourage the Guinean government to exercise restraint and insure the safety and security of all Guineans and foreign nationals. We are very concerned about violations of basic human rights and we call upon the regime to release all political prisoners.
The State Department said it would continue to monitor extralegal actions by the Guinean military and government, and work with partners in the international contact group on Guinea to support a peaceful transition there.
The contact group, which also includes the United Nations, European Union, the African Union and the west African grouping ECOWAS, urged Guinean leader Camara earlier this month to resist the temptation of running in the planned January 31 election.
It said the junta leader's credibility depended on his neutrality and that his role should be to unite rather than divide Guineans.
The State Department comments on Guinea Tuesday followed an appeal by a Washington-based lobbying group Africa Action for the United States to condemn the violence.
A spokesman for the group said Guinea, one of Africa's richest countries in terms of mineral wealth, must not be allowed to join the ranks of failed states.