05/09/2012 08:13 BST

South African Lonmin Miners Take To The Street As Tensions Rise Following Police Shooting (PICTURES)

Thousands of striking miners took to the streets in South Africa as tension continues to rise following the shooting of 34 by police, the worst incident of violence in the country since apartheid.

On Wednesday more than 3,000 marched near Lonmin's mine, in the fourth week of their ongoing pay dispute with their employers.

According to reports, dozens of police and a helicopter were at the scene as the workers demanded a pay rise.


Mine workers celebrate their release at Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court, Pretoria, South Africa

Earlier this work, miners celebrated after murder charges against them were provisionally dropped.

The country's acting national director of prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba said in a press conference the miners could be charged again when the investigation into the incident is complete.

"Final charges will only be made once all investigations have been completed. The murder charges against the current 270 suspects will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court,” he said.

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Police were filmed opening fire on the striking miners, killing 34

The miners had been charged with the crime under the controversial "common purpose" law which claimed the Lonmin miners had provoked the police to open fire and kill 34 after a long-running dispute.

Police opened fire on the 3,000 strikers, who were armed with machetes and sticks outside British-owned mine Lonmin, in August.

Prior to that at least 10 had been killed in the violence, with two police officers hacked to death.

The miners wanted their wages tripled for work at the Marikana platinum mine, owned by Lonmin, a London-based company.

Police shot into the crowd as a routine pay dispute, where union members had refused to work for a week, turned violent.

"The South African Police Service was viciously attacked by the group, using a variety of weapons, including firearms," the police service said.

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Marikana, a town about 42 miles northwest of Johannesburg, has been described as a "warzone"

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Police investigating the shootings at the scene on Friday


Striking miners sing, chant, march and dance with crudely made weapons and machetes at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg, South Africa

"The police, in order to protect their own lives and in self defence, were forced to engage the group with force.”

South Africa's president Jacob Zuma has pledged to open an inquiry into the "tragic" incident.

Speaking last week, Zuma said he was "saddened and dismayed" at the violence.

"We have to uncover the truth about what happened here. I have decided to institute a commission of inquiry. It will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident and derive the necessary lessons," he said.