By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
South African police opened fire today on a crowd of striking workers at a platinum mine, and witnesses say they counted as many as 18 dead.
Police moved in on striking workers - who had armed themselves with such weapons as machetes and gathered near the Lonmin platinum mine - after urging them to give up their weapons and go home to their hostels and shacks.
Some did leave, though others carrying weapons began war chants and soon started marching toward the township near the mine, said Molaole Montsho, a journalist at the scene.
Aftermath: South African protesters lie motionless on the ground as heavily armed police officers check them at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa
Live ammunition: Footage shot at the scene clearly shows officers firing live ammunition from automatic weapons and handguns
Taking cover: Protesting miners can be seen cowering within the gun sights of an police officer. Witnesses say as many as 18 could have been killed in the shootings
The police opened up with a water cannon first, then used stun grenades and tear gas to try and break up the crowd.
Footage shot at the scene shows a volley of intense gunfire from among the police ranks, with dozens of shots reportedly fired. The police were armed with automatic rifles and pistols.
Images broadcast by private television broadcaster e.tv showed the gunfire ending with police officers shouting: 'Cease fire!'
By that time, bodies were lying in the dust, some pouring blood. Another image showed some miners, their eyes wide, looking in the distance at heavily armed police officers in riot gear. Read more!