Conakry (AFP) - Dozens of youths in the Guinean capital Conakry staged an angry protest against a new Ebola treatment centre on Thursday, halting the launch of the construction project, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.
Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana was about to lay the symbolic first stone for the clinic when a crowd appeared, chanting slogans in Susu, a local language.
"We do not want Ebola in our neighbourhood! We fear Ebola! Do not pollute our environment," they shouted.
Guinean officials tried to talk down the ringleaders as the gathered dignitaries left, but the protesters escalated their demonstration, wrecking a gazebo, and scattering chairs and sound equipment.
Representatives from medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders, which was slated to run the centre, were evacuated along with a few remaining dignitaries.
A source from the charity said it would take advice from the government before deciding whether to proceed with the project.
The Ebola outbreak ravaging Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has claimed 6,070 lives, with health authorities in Conakry having registered more than 1,300 deaths.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent said Tuesday suspicion among locals across the region remained a major hurdle in battling the outbreak, with volunteers frequently encountering hostility.
Foreign aid workers delivering medical assistance in already difficult conditions have frequently been confronted with wild theories placing them at the centre of a global conspiracy to harvest the blood and organs of black Africans.
The enmity has at times escalated into serious unrest, with treatment centres in Guinea and Liberia raided by mobs shouting that Ebola was a fiction invented by "white governments".
The violence reached a gruesome nadir when three journalists working as part of an Ebola outreach team were murdered by villagers in southern Guinea in September.