Mauritania: Police Kill 1 at Anti-Census Rally

Posted September 27th, 2011 at 8:08 pm (UTC-5)
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At least one person was killed in southern Mauritania and several others were injured when police tried to disperse a protest against a government census effort that opponents say discriminates against the black population.

Officials and protesters Tuesday said police shot live bullets into the crowd of demonstrators in the town of Maghama.

Black Mauritanians have strongly opposed the new census effort, staging protests around the country in recent weeks. They say the requirements to prove nationality are more difficult for them than for Mauritania's Arab population, and that the census is aimed at disenfranchising them.

But the Mauritanian interior minister said the govenrment is determined to complete the census, and he denied there is any racial bias in the count. He said the census bureau is committed to counting everyone accurately.

Mauritania's black and ethnic Arab populations have historically had tense relations, with the Arabs typically holding onto most of the power and wealth.

Hundreds of Mauritanians disappeared or were killed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when those tensions turned into violent clashes.