What’s Going on Burkina Faso? Gunfire heard near president’s house

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The tension is still rising a notch and the situation is confusing in Burkina Faso. Gunfire was heard late Sunday near the presidential residence of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, in Ouagadougou, the capital, in a country plagued by jihadist violence and where mutinies took place in several barracks. Faced with its tensions, France calls on its nationals present on the spot to “avoid any displacement”.

A helicopter, all lights out, also flew over the Patte d’oie district where the residence is located, at the time of the shooting which, initially fed, became sporadic. High-intensity gunfire was also heard by residents almost at the same time as in the Sangoulé Lamizana and Baba Sy military camps.

RFI radio claims that the president was arrested overnight. He is reportedly being held in a military camp. Reuters reports that it is believed to be in the hands of mutineers. A security source even evokes an ongoing coup.

A statement is expected to be made in the coming hours. Hooded soldiers took up positions in front of national television, reports AFP, which also confirms the arrest of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

Curfew

Soldiers mutinied Sunday in several barracks in the country, including those of Sangoulé Lamizana and Baba Sy. They demand the departure of army chiefs and “adapted means” to the fight against the jihadists. Mutinies also took place at the Ouagadougou airbase, as well as in Kaya and Ouahigouya, in northern Burkina Faso, where Islamist attacks are mostly concentrated.

The government responded by acknowledging the shooting in several barracks, denying, however “a seizure of power by the army”. On Sunday evening, President Kaboré decreed “until further notice” a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

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“We want means adapted to the fight “anti-jihadist” and substantial personnel, as well as the “replacement” of the highest ranks of the national army, says in a sound recording a soldier of the barracks Sangoulé Lamizana, on condition of anonymity. He also called for “better care for the wounded” during attacks and fighting with jihadists, as well as “the families of the deceased”.

This soldier did not demand the departure of the president, accused by a large part of the population, exasperated by the violence, of being “incapable” of countering jihadist groups. In power since 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was re-elected in 2020 on the promise to make it his priority.

Protests for months

Several angry protests have been taking place for months in the country. They are often banned and dispersed by riot police. The mutineers’ claims were confirmed by other military sources and discussions took place between officials and the Minister of Defense. Throughout the day on Sunday, protesters showed their support for the mutineers and set up makeshift roadblocks in several avenues in the capital, before being dispersed by police.

“We want means adapted to the fight “anti-jihadist” and substantial personnel, as well as the “replacement” of the highest ranks of the national army, says in a sound recording a soldier of the barracks Sangoulé Lamizana, on condition of anonymity. He also called for “better care for the wounded” during attacks and fighting with jihadists, as well as “the families of the deceased”.

This soldier did not demand the departure of the president, accused by a large part of the population, exasperated by the violence, of being “incapable” of countering jihadist groups. In power since 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was re-elected in 2020 on the promise to make it his priority.

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Like neighboring Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso is caught in a spiral of violence attributed to jihadist armed groups, affiliated with the Islamist terrorist nebula Al-Qaeda and the ultra-radical jihadist group ISIS.

Attacks targeting civilians and military personnel are becoming more frequent and largely concentrated in the north and east of the country. Islamist violence has killed more than 2,000 people in nearly seven years and forced 1.5 million people to flee.

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