Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Kaboré, has been arrested and detained by soldiers.
There was heavy gunfire around his home in the capital, Ouagadougou, on Sunday night, according to reports.
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On Monday morning, armoured vehicles belonging to the presidential guard were seen covered in bullets and the seats soaked in blood, near the president’s residence, TheGuardian.com reports.
Residents reported seeing a helicopter above Kaboré’s residence, following a day of gunfire and demonstrations, and the third coup in West Africa over the last year.
Gunfire was heard at several military barracks, with initial reports of a mutiny by soldiers, demanding the sacking of the country’s military leadership and lamenting a lack of resources in the conflict with jihadist groups.
As reports of gunfire spread on Sunday, protesters looted and set fire to the headquarters of Kaboré’s ruling party, while police dispersed demonstrations in support of a potential coup held in the centre of the city.
Overwhelmed by the toll of attacks and a resulting humanitarian crisis, many in Burkina Faso have grown angry at Kaboré’s government, especially following some of the worst mass killings by jihadist groups in the last year.
In recent months, protests against the government by civilians and a coalition of opposition groups had put Kaboré’s regime under pressure and forced a raft of changes, including a new cabinet and military leadership.
Yet, it has done little to quell antipathy to Kaboré, or to the country’s former colonial ruler, France, which maintains a widely unpopular military presence in the country. This has mirrored similar antipathy across the Sahel, where French troops have been engaged in the fight against jihadist groups.
On Sunday, the government quickly denied rumours of a coup yet internet networks were also cut in the country and a curfew was imposed from 8 pm “until further notice”.
A list of demands presented by soldiers made no mention of trying to oust Kaboré, instead of demanding an improved anti-jihadist strategy, more support for troops, the wounded and their families.
“We want adequate resources for the battle” against Islamist extremists, a soldier from the Sangoule Lamizana base in Ouagadougou said in a voice recording received by Agence France-Presse.
Yet the unrest comes a little over a week after 12 people, including a senior army officer, were arrested on suspicion of planning to “destabilise” Burkina’s institutions.
According to an African diplomat in the country, “widely within the military, there is what you could you liken to dissension. In November, he sacked a lot of the top military officials – that has likely caused some to see an opportunity to take advantage.
“Then there is of course the fact they are taking a cue from what is going on in the region, in Mali, Guinea,” they added, referring to military coups in former colonies in West Africa in the last year.
Residents in the Gounghin district, where the Sangoule Lamizana base is situated, reported seeing soldiers firing in the air and sealing off the area around the barracks.
Shots were also heard at the Baby Sy barracks in the south of the capital, as well as at an airbase near the airport, which was also surrounded by soldiers wearing balaclavas, witnesses said.