Thirty four striking miners were killed and another 78 wounded when police in South Africa opened fire on them, police chief Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega said today.
It was one of the worst police shootings in South Africa since the end of apartheid.
Ms Phiyega told a news conference that her officers acted to protect their own lives after strikers armed with "dangerous weapons" charged them yesterday.
She said the strikers had not dispersed earlier, despite police use of water cannon and stun grenades.
President Jacob Zuma is coming home from a regional summit in neighbouring Mozambique to address the crisis that is seen as deepening the rift between his scandal-plagued ruling party and an increasingly angry electorate confronting massive unemployment, poverty and inequality.