Burkina Faso president ‘detained’ by mutinous soldiers at military camp

Security sources say Burkina Faso’s President Roch Kabore has been detained by mutinying soldiers at a military camp following an overnight heavy gunfire around his residence in the capital Ouagadougou.

Security and diplomatic sources said Monday that President Kabore had been detained by the mutinying troops on Sunday night. Kabore’s exact whereabouts or situation were unknown.

But two security officials told media outlets that the president and some other senior officials are being held at the Sangoule Lamizana barracks in the capital. “President Kabore, the head of parliament, and the ministers are effectively in the hands of the soldiers.”

This came after soldiers staged mutinies at multiple army barracks, prompting fears of a coup. On Monday morning, several armored vehicles from the presidential fleet, riddled with bullets, could be seen near the residence. One was spattered with blood. Three armored vehicles and a dozen hooded troops were stationed outside the headquarters of the state broadcaster.

Soldiers had mutinied at several barracks in Burkina Faso to demand the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight al-Qaeda and Daesh-linked militants operating across the country.

On Sunday, the African country witnessed protests in support of the mutinous troops. Demonstrators ransacked the headquarters of Kabore’s political party. There has been frustration in the West African country over deadly terrorist operations, including by Daesh and al-Qaeda-linked groups. The soldiers have been demanding more support for their fight against the terrorists.

Burkina Faso army says has deposed president, suspended constitution

Hours later, Burkina Faso’s army said on it has ousted President Kabore, suspended the constitution, dissolved the government and the national assembly, and closed the borders.

The announcement, which was signed by Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba and read by another officer on state television, said that the takeover had been carried out without violence and those detained were in a secure location, Reuters reported.

French embassy says Burkina Faso situation confusing

The French embassy in Burkina Faso said in a message on its website that the situation in the West African country remained confusing, advising French nationals not to go outdoors for non-essential reasons. The embassy said French schools would remain closed on Monday and Tuesday and that two Air France flights scheduled for Monday evening had been cancelled.

Anti-French sentiment is also on the rise in West Africa as the security situation deteriorates despite the presence of French troops in the troubled region. France recently deployed more troops in the Sahel despite opposition to its presence there.

West African bloc censures ‘attempted coup’ in Burkina Faso

In a statement on Monday, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS denounced what it called an attempted coup in Burkina Faso and said it held the military responsible for the physical well-being of President Kabore. “ECOWAS is following with great concern the evolution of the political and security situation in Burkina Faso, characterized since Sunday 23 January by an attempted coup d’etat,” the organization said.

Governments in West and Central Africa are on high alert for coups after successful putsches over the past 18 months in Mali and Guinea. The military also took over in Chad last year after President Idriss Deby died on battlefield.

Burkinabe authorities arrested a dozen soldiers earlier this month on suspicion of conspiring against the government. The arrests followed a shake-up within the army’s leadership in December. Rising violence in Burkina Faso driven by militant attacks killed over 2,000 people last year.

The developments are the latest sign of growing discontent with President Kabore’s government over its failure to quell the militancy that has devastated Burkina Faso since 2015.

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