Protesters confront the Guinean army in the streets in Conakry on March 22, 2020, during a constitutional referendum in the country. AFP-File
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Several people have been killed in southern Guinea, according to q, in an outbreak of violence after the country’s contested constitutional referendum.

The number killed in Nzerekore, the West African state’s second-largest city, which borders Liberia, is unclear and the circumstances are sketchy.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the violence in Guinea and called on all sides to immediately show restraint, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The local government has said that three people were killed in unrest there, while a local doctor and the political opposition cited a figure of 15.

AFP was unable to independently confirm the figures.

City residents said that clashes have taken place in the city since Sunday – the day of the referendum on changing the constitution.

New constitution

Guinea’s government has argued that a new constitution is needed to enshrine gender equality in the impoverished former French colony.

But critics fear the real motive is to allow President Alpha Conde, 82, to run for a third spell in office later this year.

At least 32 people were killed in months-long protests in the runup to Sunday’s vote, according to an AFP tally.

On polling day itself, 14 people were killed in the capital Conakry, according to a figure provided by the political opposition that AFP was unable to confirm independently. The government has said that six people died in Conakry on Sunday.

Nzerekore residents contacted by AFP reported violent incidents between religious and ethnic communities, including attacks on churches and mosques.

Authorities said one Protestant church had been burned down since Sunday, and a man was killed by unidentified individuals on the day of the vote.

Mohamed Ismael Traore, the governor of the Nzerekore region, said young men from a border village came to the city “armed to the teeth with weapons of war and charms to protect themselves from bullets”.

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