© Reuters. Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore holds his last pre-election rally ahead of the presidential election in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, November 20, 2020. REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra
Authors Thiam Ndiaga and Anne Mimault
OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore has been detained at a military camp by rebel soldiers, four security sources and a West African diplomat said on Monday, following a heavy shooting around his residence on Sunday night in the capital, Ouagadougou.
His detention came after incessant fire erupted from military camps in the West African country on Sunday, with soldiers seeking greater support in the fight against Islamist militants. The government has denied that the military has taken power https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/heavy-gunfire-heard-military-camp-burkina-faso-capital-2022-01-23.
Kabore’s exact location or situation was unknown Monday morning, and conflicting reports circulated among security and diplomatic sources.
Several bulletproof armored vehicles of the presidential fleet could be seen near the president’s residence. One was splattered with blood. Residents of the president’s neighborhood reported heavy fire during the night.
Three armored vehicles and soldiers in balaclavas were stationed in front of the state television headquarters.
Government sources were not immediately available Monday.
In a message on its website, the French embassy advised French citizens in Burkina Faso not to go out during the day for irrelevant reasons, or at night at all.
“The situation remains quite confusing,” it said, adding that two Air France flights scheduled for Monday night had been canceled and French schools would remain closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Kabore has faced waves of street protests in recent months as frustration has grown over the frequent killing of civilians and soldiers by militants, some of whom are linked to Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
A militant attack in November on a gendarmerie station in Inati, in the northern Soum region, killed 49 military police officers and four civilians. It later turned out that the forces stationed there were left without food and were forced to slaughter animals nearby for two weeks.
Protesters went out on Sunday to support the rebels and looted the headquarters of Kabore’s political party. The government declared a curfew from 2000 GMT to 05:30 GMT until further notice and closed schools for two days.
The turmoil in Burkina Faso comes after successful military coups in the last 18 months in Mali and Guinea, where the military ousted President Alpha Conde last September.
The military also took power in Chad last year after President Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield there.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in West Africa despite being a gold producer.
Islamist militants control parts of the country and have forced residents in some areas to abide by their harsh versions of Islamic law, while the military’s fight to quell the insurgency has depleted scarce national resources.
Affected by street protests, Kabore vowed in November to end “dysfunction” in the military, saying disciplinary action would follow an investigation into the attack on Inata and would launch an anti-corruption action.
Part of the anger in Burkina Faso late last year was also directed against the former colonial ruler of France, who deployed thousands of troops in the West African region of the Sahel to fight militants.
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