03:18 19 August 2012
Police forces in South Africa have reportedly opened on striking miners at the British-owned Marikana platinum mine on Thursday.
The Lonmin company owned mine, which is one of the world's largest, now has a death toll of at least 12 following a protest turned bloody. The BBC have speculated that the true figure of fatalities is upwards of 30. And according to AFP news agency, the National Union of Mineworkers stated 36 deaths.
The miners, however, were not unarmed. They were reportedly carrying machetes, clubs and spears and refused to disarm before being fired open by armed riot police.
President Jacob Zuma said he was "shocked and dismayed at this senseless violence".
The president's spokesman said in a press statment: "The president is concerned about the violent nature of the protest, especially given that the constitution and labour laws allow enough avenues to deal with issues, and is sympathetic to calls for a commission of inquiry"
3,000 miners banded together on a hillside overlooking Marikana to protest for a pay rise of roughly $1,000 (£636) a month.
Witnesses told the BBC that a group of demonstrators rushed the police, causing them to retaliate with automatic rifles and pistols.
Police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi released a statement on Thursday night which sided with the police force's actions.
He said: "We had a situation where people who were armed to the teeth, attack and killed others - even police officers.
"What should police do in such situations when clearly what they are faced with are armed and hardcore criminals who murder police?"
An investigation has been launched.
South Africa is the largest producer of platinum in the world. In May 2011, the Lonmin company fired 9,000 employees after a strike.
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