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Military deployed as police kill two miners in South Africa

South African President Jacob Zuma's office announced Thursday that he has ordered military forces to assist police trying to control labour unrest in the nation's crucial mining sector.
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South African miners return to work at the Lonmin platinum mine Thursday after a five-week strike was resolved.

South African President Jacob Zuma's office announced Thursday that he has ordered military forces to assist police trying to control labour unrest in the nation's crucial mining sector.

Despite resolution of the longest and bloodiest strike, two more deaths were reported.

Even as miners returned to work Thursday at the Lonmin PLC platinum mine in Marikana, where police killed 34 miners on Aug. 16, labour advocates said police killed two more people: a ruling party municipal councillor who died of injuries from a rubber bullet and a miner who was run over by an armoured car.

Zuma's office said he was invoking the country's constitution to use the military to support police "in the prevention and combating of crime as well as the maintenance of law and order in the Marikana Area ... and other areas around the country where needed" until Jan. 31. The notice from the presidency referred to section 201 (2) of the constitution, which states that "only the president, as head of the national executive, may authorize the employment of the defence force."

Thursday morning, police in two water cannon trucks and several armoured cars confronted striking Anglo American Platinum miners at a shantytown where residents set up barricades of rocks and burning tires and logs. Before long, the fires died down and most of the police pulled back. The people dispersed, leaving a herd of goats milling around the water cannons.

Police spokesman Dennis Adriao confirmed that police fired tear gas and a stun grenade on the illegal gathering near Sondela settlement. There were no arrests, he said.

However, there was a fatality from the confrontation Wednesday between police and strikers. Strike leader Evans Ramokga told The Associated Press that one miner was run over Wednesday by a police armoured car and dragged several metres before it stopped. He said the man died overnight in the hospital.

Adriao said he was unaware of the incident, which occurred at the scene where police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up a march by thousands of strikers.

The mines near Rustenburg belong to Anglo American Platinum, the world's largest platinum producer.