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S. Africa begins week of mourning for mine victims


08:22, August 21, 2012

CAPE TOWN, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- South Africans began a week of mourning on Monday to commemorate the lives of those who died in violent clashes at a platinum mine.

Flags will fly at half-mast at all flag stations in South Africa and missions outside the country during the period of mourning from August 20 to August 26, the government said.

Zuma declared the Week of Mourning on Sunday following clashes between police and striking miners at the Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana, Northe West Province last Thursday. The clashes left 34 miners killed and 78 others wounded.

Apart from the 34 protestors killed on Thursday, 10 others have also been killed -- including two police officers -- in nearly a week of fighting between rival worker factions. Authorities linked the violence to rivalry between two unions -- the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which have been vying for control of the miners.

"The nation is in shock and in pain. We must this week reflect on the sanctity of human life and the right to life as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, " Zuma said.

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