Heavy Gunfire Reported at Burkina Faso Military Base
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Heavy gunfire rang out at a military base in Burkina Faso’s capital early Sunday, prompting fears that a coup attempt was underway after weeks of growing frustration with the government’s handling of the Islamic insurgency wracking the West African country.
Mutinous soldiers seized control at Ouagadougou’s Lamizana Sangoule Military Barracks. About 100 motorbikes left the base after chanting support for the mutineers. However, they were stopped by security forces who used tear gas.
While acknowledging the gunfire that occurred in barracks of the army, the government denied the possibility of an army taking over.
Defense Minister Aime Barthelemy Simpore told state broadcaster RTB that a few barracks had been affected not only in Ouagadougou but in “some cities elsewhere.” He denied, however, that President Roch Marc Christian Kabore had been detained by the mutinous soldiers, even though his whereabouts remained unknown.
A news headline on the state broadcaster described the gunfire as “acts of discontent by soldiers.”
“The military hierarchy is working to restore calm and serenity in the barracks,” it read. “Contrary to some information, no institution of the republic has been targeted.”
Anger at army deaths in the Lamizana Sangoule military barsracks prompted soldiers to shoot into the air at the Lamizana Sangoule military Barracks on Sunday.
The soldiers put a man on the phone with The Associated Press who said that they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso’s military amid the escalating fight against Islamic militants. They also want more manpower to fight extremists and better treatment for the wounded and their families. He stated that the rebel soldiers are also demanding the replacement of the intelligence hierarchy and military structure.
This gunfire came a day after demonstrators demanded that Kabore resign at an Ouagadougou demonstration. Since his November 2020 reelection, Kabore is facing growing opposition. His prime minister was fired and most of his Cabinet colleagues were replaced by him last month.
As al-Qaida attacks and Islamic State groups increase, violence is increasing in this once peaceful West African country. In the last few years, thousands have been killed and 1.5 million have been forced to flee their homes.