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Locals clash with Brazilian gold miners in Suriname

28 December 09 10:22 GMT

Clashes between locals and Brazilian gold miners in Suriname are now known to have left at least 25 people injured, Brazilian officials say.

The violence in the town of Albina erupted last Thursday after a man was stabbed to death, allegedly by a Brazilian, who is now in custody.

Suriname authorities are reported to have stepped up patrols in the region.

Tensions between native Surinamese and hundreds of Brazilian gold prospectors have long simmered in Albina.

Last week's violence began after a Brazilian man reportedly stabbed a local man, provoking townspeople to take revenge.

Brazilians living in the Albina were attacked and the violence spread to businesses owned by Chinese migrants.

The town, home to some 5,000 people, is the main crossing point into the French territory of French Guiana.

The Brazilian government sent an Air Force plane to Suriname at the weekend to bring several of their nationals back to Brazil.

Brazil's ambassador to Suriname, Jose Luiz Machado e Costa, visited Albina and said he could not confirm earlier reports that Brazilians had been killed. He told Brazilian website Folha Online that 25 people had been injured in the violence.

Brazilian officials say the government of Suriname has promised all possible steps will be taken to guarantee the safety of Brazilian migrants in the country.

There are estimated to be up to 18,000 Brazilians living in Suriname, a former Dutch colony of some half a million people.

Many of the Brazilians crossed over the border to prospect for gold.

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