Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore has been detained at a military camp by mutinying soldiers. Reports of him being detained on Monday, January 24, came a day after soldiers staged mutinies at several army barracks, prompting fears of a coup in the conflict-hit country. Later on Sunday, heavy gunfire was also heard near Kabore’s residence in the capital, Ouagadougou.
It was gathered that the soldiers have been demanding more support in their fight against Islamist militants.
Aljazeera reported that several armoured vehicles of the presidential fleet, riddled with bullets, were seen near the President’s residence on Monday morning. One was spattered with blood. Residents of the president’s neighbourhood reported heavy gunfire overnight.
Three armoured vehicles and soldiers wearing balaclavas were stationed outside the headquarters of the state broadcaster. Government sources could not immediately be reached on Monday.
Two security sources and a West African diplomat told Reuters news agency that Kabore was detained at a military camp. There was no immediate comment by the government, which on Sunday had denied that a coup was underway.
Journalist Henry Wilkins reported from Ouagadougou on Monday;
“We just passed the military base where Kabore is alleged to be confined at the moment.
“Traffic is circulating as normal but there is a usually high number of military personnel out on the streets around the presidential palace.”
AFP news agency also reported that the president was arrested along with other government officials. “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, two security officials said.
Two of the rebellious soldiers told The Associated Press by phone early Monday that Kabore was being held “in a safe place”, but would not specify where.
Kabore has led Burkina Faso since being elected in 2015 after a popular uprising ousted longtime strongman President Blaise Compaore, who was in power for nearly three decades. Kabore was reelected in November 2020 for another five-year term, however, frustration has been growing at his inability to stem the spread of violence across the country.
Attacks linked to al-Qaeda and the armed group ISIL (ISIS) are escalating, killing thousands and displacing more than an estimated 1.5 million people. The military has suffered heavy losses.
Angry mutinous soldiers said the government was disconnected from its forces in the field, and their colleagues were dying and they wanted military rule. The soldiers put a man on the phone who said they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso’s military.