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Protesters supporting Togo teacher strike clash with police

March 25, 2015

LOME, Togo (AP) — Hundreds of people protesting in support of a teachers’ strike along a major highway in Togo clashed with security forces on Wednesday, the government and a witness said.

In a statement read out on state television, the government said 20 security forces and 23 civilians were injured.

Togo’s teachers are on strike this week to demand a salary increase after talks with the government failed to yield an agreement.

The protesters, many of them students, gathered near the town of Glei, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) from the capital, Lome. They erected barricades, snarling traffic on the main highway leading from the city to the north, according to the government statement.

In the statement, the government blamed the unrest on teachers, saying they had recruited their students to protest.

The statement said that the protesters started throwing rocks at police as soon as they arrived on the scene. But Franck Pissang, a journalist who was at the protest, said police first fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, and then demonstrators responded with rocks.

Soldiers later arrived to provide backup, firing warning shots and chasing protesters in running battles.

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