Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré is being held by mutinous soldiers, two of the soldiers told The Associated Press by telephone on Monday. They did not specify where Kaboré was being held, but said he was in a safe place.
Gunshots were heard late Sunday evening near the president’s residence and in the early hours of Monday a battle broke out at the presidential palace as a helicopter flew overhead. Roads in the capital were empty on Sunday evening except for checkpoints heavily guarded by mutinous soldiers.
State news station RTB was heavily watched Monday morning.
The fighting began on Sunday when soldiers took control of the Lamizana Sangoule military barracks in the capital. The mutiny came a day after a public demonstration calling for Kabore’s resignation, the latest in a series of anti-Kaboré protests as anger mounted over his government’s handling of the Islamic insurgency.
The government has made no statement since Sunday, when Defense Minister Aimé Barthélemy Simpore told state broadcaster RTB that a few barracks had been hit by unrest not only in Ouagadougou but also in other areas. cities. He, however, denied that the president was detained by the mutineers, although Kaboré’s fate was unknown.
“Well, it’s a few barracks. There aren’t too many,” Simpore said.
Kaboré had ruled Burkina Faso since being elected in 2015 after a popular uprising toppled longtime strongman President Blaise Compaoré, who had been in power for nearly three decades. Kaboré was re-elected in November 2020 for another five-year term, but frustration is growing at his failure to stem the spread of jihadist violence across the country. Attacks linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are intensifying, killing thousands and displacing more than about 1.5 million people.
The army has suffered casualties since the start of extremist violence in 2016. In December, more than 50 members of the security forces were killed in the Sahel region and nine members of the security forces were killed in the Center region -North in November.
Angry mutinous soldiers told the AP that the government was out of touch with its forces on the ground and that their colleagues were dying and they wanted military rule. The soldiers phoned a man who told them they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso’s army amid an escalating fight against Islamic militants. Among their demands are an increase in personnel in the fight against extremists and better care for the injured and the families of the dead.
The Independent Gt