Sun. May 22nd, 2022

The government denies that the army took control of the country after exchanging gunfire at several army barracks.

Burkina Faso’s government says the army did not take control of the country on Sunday after gunfire erupted at several army barracks, including two in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Heavy gunfire at the capital’s Sangoule Lamizana camp, which houses the army’s general staff and a prison whose detainees include soldiers involved in a failed 2015 coup attempt, broke out at least as early as 5am (0500) GMT), a Reuters reporter said.

The reporter later saw soldiers in the camp shooting into the air. A witness also reported gunfire at a military camp in Kaya, about 100 km (62 miles) north of Ouagadougou.

“Information on social media will make people believe that there has been an army takeover,” Alkassoum Maiga, government spokesman, said in a statement on Sunday.

“The government, while acknowledging the validity of shooting incidents in some barracks, denies this information and calls on the population to remain calm.”

The gunfire came a day after clashes between police and protesters during protests against the authorities’ failure to stop violence plaguing the West African country.

It also follows the arrest earlier this month of numerous soldiers over a suspected conspiracy to destabilize institutions in the West African country, which has a long history of coups.

A soldier stationed on Ouagadougou’s western suburbs confirmed gunfire reports to AFP news agency. Residents there also spoke of “increasingly heavy fire”.

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

There were also gunfire on barracks in the northern towns of Kaya and Ouahigouya, residents there told AFP.

A plague of attacks

Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Saturday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Authorities earlier this week said they were banning the protests for security reasons.

Security sources reported that two soldiers were killed after their vehicle hit a temporary bomb in the north on Saturday.

In Kaya, residents told AFP protesters stormed the ruling party’s headquarters.

Groups linked to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) group have been plaguing the Sahel nation since 2015, killing hundreds.

Attacks targeting civilians and soldiers have become increasingly frequent – and are largely concentrated in the north and east of the country.

The violence, led by armed groups over the past few years, has forced some 1.5 million people to flee their homes, the national emergency agency said, and many have settled in the area around Kaya.

On November 27, hundreds protested against the failure of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore to stop the violence, which caused clashes with security forces that wounded dozens.

The protest came days after a ambush by a suspected armed group targeting 41 civilians and the VDP, an official self-defense force, targeting 41 people in the northern You region.

Among the soldiers arrested this month over the plot to “destabilize institutions” was Lieutenant-Colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana, who ordered operations against armed groups in the country’s hard-hit western region.

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