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Deadly clashes erupted in the Guinean capital this week after unions called for an open-ended general strike against the country’s military junta, a rare protest in the West African country after the army seized power in a coup more than two years ago, Al Jazeera reported.

A confederation of the main unions urged public and private sector workers to strike for the release of prominent media activist Jamal Pendessa, who was sentenced to six months in prison last week – with three months suspended.

Unions also demanded lower food prices and an end to media censorship.

The unrest has paralyzed the capital, Conarky, with businesses and schools being shuttered, while hospitals provided reduced services.

Skirmishes took place in some of Conarky’s outskirts, where two young men were shot dead.

The strike comes a week after the military dissolved the country’s transitional government – first formed in July 2022 – without giving any reason, nor saying when a new one would be installed. The army also ordered the confiscation of government officials’ passports and the freezing of their bank accounts.

Protests have become very rare in Guinea since Gen. Mamady Doumbouya led the military to take power in September 2021.

A year later, the military government banned all demonstrations, as well as detained a number of opposition leaders, civil society members and journalists.

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