Mutinous soldiers arrest Burkinabe president

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Mutinous troops in restive Burkina Faso arrested President Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Monday and detained him in army barracks a day after staging an uprising, security sources told AFP.

Soldiers at several army bases across the West African country rebelled on Sunday, demanding the sacking of the military top brass and more resources to fight a bloody jihadist insurgency.

Later in the day gunshots were heard near Kabore’s private residence in the capital Ouagadougou, and witnesses reported seeing a helicopter above it.

“President Kabore, the head of parliament and the ministers are effectively in the hands of the soldiers” at the Sangoule Lamizana barracks in the capital Ouagadougou, a security source said, with another source confirming the arrest.

The situation was tense and confused in the capital, where mobile internet had been cut on Sunday, making it difficult to verify rumours of a coup in progress.

An AFP journalist said around 10 hooded troops had posted themselves in front of the national broadcaster RTB on Monday, but it was not immediately clear if they were from the mutineers or had been sent in by the government.

Kabore, first elected in 2015 before winning re-election five years later on campaign vows he would prioritise the fight against the jihadist insurgency, has faced rising public anger about the failure to stop the bloodshed.

A group of protesters supporting the soldiers set up makeshift roadblocks on several main streets in the capital before being dispersed by police, AFP journalists said.

There have been several coups or attempted coups in Burkina Faso. In neighbouring Mali — where the insurgency began before crossing the border — the military toppled the civilian government in 2020.

– Soldier demands –

The latest volatility in Burkina Faso began on Sunday morning when gunfire was heard at numerous military bases, including two in Ouagadougou.

The rebellious troops presented a list of demands, which emphasised the need for a better anti-jihadist strategy, but did not mention trying to oust Kabore.

“We want adequate resources for the battle” against Islamist extremists, a soldier from the Sangoule Lamizana base in Ouagadougou said in a voice recording received by AFP..