At least 98 people have been killed in three days of ethnic violence in Guinea, nearly double the previous death toll, the government said.

The violence happened last week and erupted on July 14 after a man accused of being a thief was lynched. It took place during tense preparations for long-delayed elections meant to restore civilian rule after a 2008 military coup in the West African nation.

"We are today at around 100 dead - 76 victims in [Guinea's second-largest city] Nzerekore and 22 others in Koule," Damantang Albert Camara, a government spokesperson, said.

The government said on July 18 that 58 people had died in the clashes in the southeast of the country between the mainly Christian or animist Guerze community.

The Guerze is dominant in the region while Konianke are mainly Muslim.

At least 160 more were injured, the government said at the time.

The fighting began shortly after rival political parties agreed to hold legislative elections on September 24 after months of deadlock and street protests which often degenerated into ethnic clashes.

The government deployed troops to the region to quell the violence, and at least 131 people suspected of having taken part in the killings have been arrested, Camara said.

"We're now doing a triage to find out who did what. Some were arrested with machetes or clubs but others had (hunting rifles) and military weapons," he said.

Source: Reuters