Mutinous soldiers take over military base in Burkina Faso
A group of mutinous soldiers took control of a military base in Burkina Faso on Sunday amid calls for President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré to resign.
The country’s defense minister, Aime Barthelemy Simpore, told state media that barracks in multiple cities had been affected by the unrest. On Saturday, demonstrators gathered in support of the mutineers, leading security forces to deploy tear gas to disperse the crowds.
“Well, it’s a few barracks. There are not too many,” said Simpore, according to The Associated Press. “In some of these barracks, the calm has already returned. So that’s it for the moment. As I said, we are monitoring the situation.”
Soldiers at the Lamizana Sangoule military barracks in the capital city of Ouagadougou shot into the air in anger over army casualties, which they blamed on Kabore.
When contacted by the AP, soldiers at the base put a man on the phone who said they wanted better working conditions for the military as their battle with Islamic militants escalates. They are demanding more manpower in their fight against extremists, better care for the wounded and the families of those who die and for the military and intelligence hierarchy to be replaced.
Burkina Faso has been besieged by terrorist groups since at least 2015, with groups affiliated with the Islamic State and al Qaeda targeting the country’s gold mines. Thousands have been killed in attacks in recent years, and roughly 1.5 million people have been displaced.
Attacks have become more frequent, largely concentrated in the country’s northern and eastern regions.
Despite the unrest among soldiers, the government of Burkina Faso denied speculation that the it was falling to a military takeover. A spokesperson for the government said that talks are currently underway with the mutineers, Reuters reported.
“The head of state has not been detained; no institution of the country has been threatened,” said Simpore. The AP noted that Kaboré’s whereabouts currently remain unknown.
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