Burkina Faso: Government denies rumors of coup
As protesters set the ruling party headquarters on fire, the government denies social media reports that the army has seized power.
On Sunday, protesters set fire to the headquarters of Burkina Faso’s ruling party, coinciding with gunfire at several army bases and a blackout in internet services.
Residents in the Gounghin district, west of the capital, Ouagadougou, reported massive gunfire in the Sangoule Lamizana Base and in a military prison, where one of the generals - accused of a coup attempt in 2015 - is detained.
Shots were also heard at the Baby Sy barracks in the south of the capital, as well as at an airbase near the airport, witnesses said.
There was also gunfire at bases in the northern towns of Kaya and Ouahigouya, according to residents there who reported to AFP, and mobile internet services were out.
Denying a possible coup and calls for calm
President Roch Christian Kabore's government quickly denied rumors of a coup while the government spokesman Alkassoum Maiga said in a statement, "Information on social media would have people believe there was an army takeover."
He added, "The government, while acknowledging that there was gunfire in some barracks, denies this information and calls on the public to remain calm."
For his part, Defense Minister General Barthelemy Simpore said in a television statement that "none of the Republic's institutions has been troubled" by the revolt, adding that there were "localized, limited" incidents "in a few barracks," and investigations into the events are ongoing.
Concerning events in Burkina Faso
Earlier this month, authorities announced the arrest of 12 people, including a senior army officer, in connection with a plan assumed to "destabilize the institutions" of the state.
The latest unrest coincides with a jihadist insurgency that swept the country from neighboring Mali in 2015, putting pressure on Burkina Faso's undertrained and poorly-equipped forces.
Some 2,000 people have been killed, according to AFP, while armed violence has forced some 1.5 million people to flee their homes in recent years, according to the national emergency agency Konasor.
The country is also witnessing large-scale demonstrations, including clashes with security forces, which are using tear gas to disperse protesters, in conjunction with a massive arrest campaign.