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7 killed after hundreds storm African gold mine

/ Source: Reuters

Seven people were killed after hundreds of people raided a mine in Tanzania in an attempt to steal gold ore, mine owner African Barrick Gold said.

The London-listed gold company said there had been no material impact on the mine's operation or production. The mine, located in Tarime district about 60 miles east of Lake Victoria, produced almost 213,000 ounces of gold in 2010 and is the company's third-largest mine by production this year.

"According to information received, a number of intruders sustained gunshot wounds, resulting in seven intruder fatalities and 12 injuries," African Barrick said in a statement.

A senior police officer told Reuters earlier on Tuesday that five people were killed after 800 and 1,200 people armed with traditional weapons invaded the mine at around 0200 GMT on Monday with the intention of stealing gold ore from one of the crushers. He said it was the third attack in a week.

"There have been two other attacks on the mine over the past one week, but security personnel at the mine, with the help of police officers, managed to keep the invaders at bay," Tarime-Rorya regional police commander, Constantine Massawe, told Reuters by telephone.

"Police fired warning shots into the air and used tear gas to try to stop the attackers from advancing but they would not heed. Police were forced to use live ammunition to protect themselves. Ten people, including seven police officers, were injured in the incident," he said.

"This is an extreme situation in a very difficult tribal area, exacerbated by some poor management tactics," said Fairfax IS analyst John Meyer.

Machetes, rocks and hammers
The miner said the Tanzanian Police (FFU) came under sustained attack on Monday by approximately 800 criminal intruders who illegally entered the North Mara mine site.

"The FFU had been called to the area to respond and were set upon by the criminal intruders armed with machetes, rocks and hammers, it said.

The mine, which consists of four open pits, has experienced several attacks over the past few years.

In 2008, some 200 people attacked it and destroyed property worth $7 million, forcing operations at one pit to be halted.

"This is clearly negative news, and erodes hopes that relations with the community, in this northern part of Tanzania (near the border with Kenya) were improving," said Tyler Broda, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity.