Fears of coup in Burkina Faso after gunfire heard near President's housetext_fields
Ouagadougou: Gunfire was heard near the residence of Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Sunday morning, shortly after rebellious soldiers siezed a military base in the capital, raising fears of yet another coup in the conflict-ridden West-African country.
Burkina Faso's government earlier said the army had not seized control of the country after exchanges of gunfire at multiple army barracks, including two in Ouagadougou, amid growing frustration with the government's failure to prevent attacks by armed groups.
"The head of state has not been detained; no institution of the country has been threatened," said Defence Minister General Bathelemy Simpore at a press conference on Sunday where he addressed the gunfire issue. "For now, we don't know their motives or what they are demanding. We are trying to get in contact with them," he said, adding that calm had returned to some of the mutinous barracks.
Kabore himself has not made a public appearance yet although government officials said he was safe.
The army has been demanding an increased allocation of resources to fight Islamist extremists in the country. Mutinies were reported at several military camps, including Sangoule Lamizana which houses prisoners involved in a failed coup attempt in 2015. Top military officials have also come under fire with soldiers demanding their resignation.
The unrest came a day after clashes between police and demonstrators during protests against the authorities' failure to stem violence ravaging the West African country. It also follows the arrest earlier this month of numerous soldiers over a suspected plot to "destabilise institutions" in the country, which has a long history of coups, an Al Jazeera report said.
Soldiers were also demanding better medical treatment and compensation for families of soldiers who had lost their lives combating violence and Islamic insurgency, the latter of which is driven by Al Qaeda and ISIS activity in the region.
Anger against the ruling government had been building since November when 20 soldiers were killed in Northern Burkina Faso. It was later revealed that the soldiers in northern Inata had gone for two weeks without rations, forcing them to hunt for food, which is when they were ambushed and killed by Al Qaeda militants.
Protests rocked the country with many civilians demanding that President Kabore do more to address the violence.