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JOHANNESBURG — Two striking miners have been killed by security guards at a Toronto-based company’s coal mine in South Africa, local reports say.
The deaths, confirmed by the company Thursday, are the latest in a year of sporadic violence that has killed more than 60 people at mines across South Africa, including 34 who were killed by police at the Marikana platinum mine in August.
In the clash on Wednesday, about 100 striking workers tried to storm a locked mine-explosives armoury at a coal mine owned by Toronto-based Forbes & Manhattan Coal, but were dispersed by security guards, police said.
“It is further alleged that the security officers chased some of the workers into an informal settlement near the mine and shots were fired, injuring two men,” police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said in a statement.
He said the two men died from their injuries in hospital, and police are investigating two counts of murder. The company confirmed Thursday that two of its employees were killed in the clash.
The company said it has suspended operations at its Magdalena and Aviemore underground coal mines in South Africa, where strikes have been continuing since Oct. 17.
“In order to ensure the safety of all our employees and to safeguard our assets, we have taken a decision to suspend all operations until such time as deemed safe and appropriate by management and the board,” Forbes Coal president Stephan Theron said.
Local media reports, quoting an official of the mine’s security company, said some of the striking miners were carrying guns and the two deaths occurred in an exchange of gunfire when the workers repeatedly tried to storm the armoury.
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