JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma has authorized the Commission of Inquiry to investigate the shootout at a platinum mine in North West Province, the government said on Saturday.
"I am convinced that the Commission of Inquiry will uncover the truth and facts will emerge," Zuma said after a visit to the Lonmim Plantinum Mine in Marikana late Friday, according to the Government Communication and Information on Saturday.
The shootout left 34 people killed and 78 injured , according to the latest official figures. Apart from the 34 protestors killed on Thursday, 10 others have also been killed -- including two police officers -- in nearly a week of fighting between rival worker factions.
"We have asked relevant government departments including especially the provincial government to provide every possible assistance to the families during this painful and difficult period. The loss of life in this manner is unacceptable and we have to ensure that this never happens again," Zuma said after being briefed by police on the incident.
Information about the tragedy are sketchy as many families are still searching for news about their loved ones.
"We know that many families are still desperately looking for their loved ones therefore government stands ready to assist," Zuma said.
Thousands of miners have been protesting since Aug. 10 at the mine to press their demand for better working conditions and a rise in salaries. But clashes broke out between the miners belonging to different unions which have been fighting for control of the miners.
Police were deployed at the mine to monitor the situation but they were attacked by a group of militant miners, according to South Africa's National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.
She said police were forced to use maximum force to defend themselves in clashes with striking miners.
It is believed to be one of the deadliest conflict between police and protestors since the apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994.
Phiyega said she was saddened by the tragedy and the loss of lives. She called Thursday's events "the sad and dark moment we experience as a country."
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