South African police fired on and killed miners who were engaged in a wildcat strike at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine.
Leaders of the radical Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which was representing most of the strikers, accused police of a massacre.
“There was no need whatsoever for these people to be killed like that,” General Secretary Jeffrey Mphahlele told Reuters.
Some commentators likened the scenes to apartheid-era footage of ranks of police opening fire on crowds of protesters in black townships.
“I cannot think of a confrontation between protesters and police since 1994 that has taken place along these lines,” said Nic Borain, an independent political analyst.