Two West African security sources and a diplomat told Reuters on Monday that rebel soldiers had detained Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore in an army camp after heavy gunfire at his home on Sunday evening in the capital, Ouagadougou.
The country is facing a rebellion by soldiers who demand more government support to fight Islamist militants and the resignation of army and intelligence chiefs. On Sunday, the Burkina Faso government confirmed the shooting of some military barracks, but denied reports on social media of the army’s seizure of power.
Armed soldiers in Burkina Faso on Sunday (23) – Photo: Sophie Garcia / AP
Also on Sunday, hundreds of people took to the streets to support the rebels. Outside the Lamizana barracks, about 100 people sang the national anthem and chanted “Free the country!”. Soldiers at every corner responded by firing in the air. It was not clear whether this was to show support for the demonstrators or to disperse them.
And in the center of Ouagadougou, near the Nation Square, police fired tear gas to disperse about 300 protesters.
Reuters reporters reported that soldiers also fired in the air at an air base near Ouagadougou International Airport. The US embassy also reported shooting at three other military bases in Ouagadougou and at bases in Kaya and Wahigoya, two cities in the north.
Frustration is mounting in Burkina Faso over the government’s handling of an insurgency by militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The killing of 49 military policemen in a militant attack in November sparked violent street protests calling for Kabore to resign.
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