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S. Africa miners get ultimatum after shootings

By AFP

MARIKANA, South Africa (AFP) - Platinum producer Lonmin has given striking workers a final ultimatum to end a wildcat stayaway by Monday or face being fired after police gunned down 34 protesters.

"The final ultimatum provides RDOs (rock drill operators) with a last opportunity to return to work or face possible dismissal," spokeswoman Gillian Findlay said Sunday, three days after the country's worst police violence since apartheid at the company's Marikana mine.

Police opened fire with live ammunition after failing to disperse a group of strikers at the mine in the North West province owned by the world's third biggest platinum producer.

The strikers have refused to heed calls by Lonmin to return to work at the mine whose shutdown has caused the company's shares to slump while rallying the platinum price.

The crackdown Thursday left 34 dead, 78 wounded and 259 detained and boosted the death toll to 44 after 10 already dead, including two police officers, in violence blamed on rivalry between unions.

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