Benin police killed two protesters Saturday while trying to break up a demonstration by people who have erected barricades and blockaded the national road since Tuesday, the city’s mayor told AFP.
“This morning, a contingent of the republican police came to clear the roadblocks,” Timothee Biaou said. “Gunfire was exchanged between police and masked individuals. Seven civilians were taken to hospital and there were also two deaths.”
Also soldiers opened fire during clashes with protesters in the West African country of Benin on Friday, as violence erupted after days of demonstrations following controversial parliamentary elections in April, witnesses said.
“Security forces are present everywhere in the town and on the main road, to try to clear the barricades” said a local politician, speaking on condition of anonymity, of violence in the towns of Save and Tchaourou, in central Benin.
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“The army is firing live ammunition, the violence is extreme.”
The region is the home base of former president Thomas Boni Yayi, an outspoken critic of the government.
Protestors have been demonstrating for the past four days.
They are demanding the lifting of a police cordon around Boni Yayi’s house in the country’s economic capital Cotonou.
Boni Yayi has been stuck inside under effective house arrest since the polls.
“The young people have re-established the roadblocks this morning on the road,” Timothee Biaou, mayor of Save, told AFP, saying that soldiers had also fired live rounds on Thursday evening, and two people were seriously wounded.
Photos and videos are circulating on social media showing wounded protesters and soldiers.
One medic confirmed injured soldiers had been taken to hospital, but gave no other details.
Protests first erupted in Benin after the April 28 parliamentary elections in which at least four people died.
The crisis has stoked concerns of an authoritarian turn in a country once seen as a democratic example in the region.
The poll had taken place without any opposition candidate, and all 83 members of parliament come from the only two parties allowed to take part, both allied to President Patrice Talon.
Changes to electoral rules had effectively barred opposition parties from fielding candidates.