Gunfire was heard at Burkina Faso’s army barracks after a day of violent protests

Burkina Faso’s government on Sunday confirmed reports of gunfire against certain military camps but denied rumors of an army takeover when heavy gunfire was heard from the main military base in the capital Ouagadougou.

The shooting at the Sangoule Lamizana camp, which houses the Burkinabe Army’s General Staff, began at 5 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and could still be heard two hours later.

A Reuters reporter saw soldiers firing into the air in the camp, which also houses a prison whose prisoners include soldiers who were involved in a failed coup attempt in 2015.

Shots were also heard at another military camp, Baby Sy, in the southern capital, and at an air base near the airport, military sources said.

There were further shootings at barracks in the cities of Kaya and Ouahigouya in the north, the residents there told AFP.

“Information on social media would make people believe it was an army takeover,” government spokesman Alkassoum Maiga said in a statement.

“The government, while acknowledging that shootings took place in some barracks, denies this information and urges the public to remain calm,” the spokesman added.

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

Burkina Faso authorities arrested a dozen soldiers earlier this month on suspicion of conspiring against the government.

The arrests followed a revolution in the army’s leadership in December, which some analysts saw as an attempt by President Roch Kabore to bolster his support in the military.

Violent protests

Increasing violence in the West African country by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State killed more than 2,000 people last year, leading to violent street protests in November urging Kabore to resign.

Further demonstrations were planned for Saturday, but the government banned them and security forces fired tear gas at protesters barricading the streets of Ouagadougou.

Burkina Fascists fire tear gas at protesters angry over rising jihadist violence

The failure to stem Burkina’s worsening security crisis has led to dissatisfaction. © Olympia de Maismont, AFP (file image) The government has stopped mobile internet services on several occasions, and the tense situation in November led to the UN Special Envoy to West Africa warning of any military takeover.

Prisoners in the Sangoule Lamizana camp include General Gilbert Diendere, a top ally of Burkina Faso’s former president, Blaise Compaore. Compaore was overthrown in an uprising in 2014.

Diendere led a failed coup attempt the following year against the transitional government. He was sentenced in 2019 to 20 years in prison. He is also currently on trial in connection with the killing of Compaore’s predecessor, Thomas Sankara, during a 1987 coup.

( Jowhar with REUTERS)

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