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Some South African miners back to work after shooting

Owner Lonmin has threatened about 3,000 striking workers with dismissal if they do not show up at work in the platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg. But only a quarter of them returned to work after the police shooting that killed 34 last week.

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A woman from a group of churchgoers wails at the site, Sunday, at the Lonmin platinum mine, background, near Rustenburg, South Africa, during a memorial service for 34 dead striking miners who were shot and killed by police last Thursday. Miners must return to work Monday or face being fired from the mine.

Denis Farrell/AP

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A quarter of the workforce returned on Monday to South Africa's Marikana platinum mine, resuming operations at the sprawling site where police shot dead 34 striking miners in clashes that evoked memories of apartheid-era violence.

Mine owner Lonmin has threatened about 3,000 striking workers with dismissal if they do not show up at Marikana, 60 miles northwest of Johannesburg, where miners armed with spears, machetes and handguns died on Thursday in a hail of police fire.

Killing prior to shooting

Ten people also were killed prior to the police shooting, including a shop steward from the country's biggest union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who was hacked to death.

The mayhem was sparked by a spreading battle for membership between the NUM and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has accused its rival of caring more about politics and personal enrichment than workers.

Lonmin said in a statement that operations had resumed and it had extended to Tuesday from Monday its deadline for the strikers at the mine, which employs 28,000, to return to work.

Members of the Solidarity union, which represents the most skilled workers at the plant, estimated it would take about 80 percent of workers to return before ore extraction could start again.

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