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At Least 150 Said Killed in Togo Violence

July 20, 2005

LOME, Togo (AP) _ Togo security forces and allied militia fighters have killed at least 150 people since April elections, Amnesty International said in a report released Tuesday.

The London-based rights group said witnesses told investigators of bodies being buried or dumped in morgues anonymously and that the number of people killed is likely to be ``much, much higher.″

Justice Minister Jean Abi Tchessa was skeptical of the report, telling The Associated Press: ``We are waiting to see where and when all those people were killed in Togo.″

At least 22 people were earlier confirmed killed in violence since April 24 elections won by Faure Gnassingbe, son of the late 38-year dictator Gnassingbe Eyadema.

Togo’s opposition cried balloting fraud and citizens took to streets in many neighborhoods in the capital, Lome, and elsewhere in the country. Security forces moved into the streets and the ensuing violence caused 40,000 refugees to flee.

Amnesty said the human rights violations caused by security forces and military-trained militia included extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, arbitrary arrests and torture.

Togo slipped into crisis in February when Eyadema, one of Africa’s longest-reigning strongmen, died and the military installed his son in the presidency. Gnassingbe bent to intense international pressure and arranged the elections.

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