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Two dead in clashes with security forces in Togo

Two people were killed as opposition supporters clashed with security forces in Togo’s capital, Lome, on Saturday, the government said, after protests were stopped elsewhere in the country.

A statement read on national television said the two bodies were found in quick succession in the Agoe Zongo area of the city at about 1:00 pm (1300 GMT).

“The first body was that of a young man aged about 17. He had an open wound in his left eye indicating a bullet entry wound,” it added.

“The second body, of a man aged about 30, showed no trace of bullet wounds.”

The government, which had earlier said the first victim was a young child, said it appeared unidentified gunmen in a black 4×4-type vehicle were shooting in the area.

A search is under way for the vehicle.

Four members of the security forces were injured and 28 protesters were detained, it added. The opposition also said there were two deaths as well as several injured.

“We’ve been told a third person died but we don’t have any confirmation yet. We’ll give a detailed update tomorrow,” opposition coalition spokesman Eric Dupuy told AFP.

A coalition of 14 opposition political parties this week announced a series of 10 new protests in the run-up to parliamentary elections planned for December 20.

The opposition is boycotting the polls because of alleged irregularities in its organisation but this week the government banned the marches on security grounds.

In several areas of the capital, youths set up barricades and burned tyres. Security forces reacted by firing teargas and chased protesters.

In the northern cities of Sokode and Bafilo, 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Lome, opposition supporters attempted to assemble for a demonstration.

But they, too, were dispersed with teargas.

Sokode is a stronghold of the Pan-African National Party (PNP) of Tikpi Atchadam, who was behind the first countrywide street protests but is now thought to be in exile in Ghana for his own safety.

The coalition wants constitutional reform to re-introduce a limit of two terms of office for presidents, as well as an overhaul of the independent national electoral commission.

Togo has been hit by a wave of protests since September last year, calling for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005.

Before that, his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, was president for 38 years.

Earlier this week, evangelical, Presbyterian and Methodist churches in Togo called for the election to be delayed for several months because of concern about its organisation.

On Friday night, senior Muslim leaders also called for a delay.

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