Soldiers take over Burkina Faso military barracks

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Rebellious soldiers have seized control of a military base in Burkina Faso’s capital Sunday, raising fears of a coup attempt in the West African nation as gunfire rang out for hours amid growing frustration with the government’s handling of the Islamic insurgency.

On Sunday, security forces used tear gas to disperse crowds seeking to publicly support the mutineers. Crowds also vandalized a building occupied by the president’s political party and set it on fire.

Defense Minister, Aime Barthelemy Simpore disclosed that a few barracks had been affected by unrest not only in the capital of Ouagadougou but in other cities too. He denied, however, that the president had been detained by the mutineers, even though Kabore’s whereabouts remained unknown.

Angry soldiers shot into the air, directing their anger over army casualties at the president. About 100 motorcycles later left the base, chanting in support of the mutineers, but were stopped when security forces deployed tear gas.

The soldiers put a man on the phone with The Associated Press who said that they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso’s military amid the escalating fight against Islamic militants. Among their demands are increased manpower in the battle against extremists and better care for those wounded and the families of the dead. The mutinous soldiers also want the military and intelligence hierarchy replaced, he stated.

Kabore first took office in 2015, winning the election held after longtime President Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising. Still, Kabore has faced growing opposition since his reelection in November 2020 as the country’s Islamic extremism crisis has deepened. Last month he fired his prime minister and replaced most of the Cabinet, but critics have continued calling for his resignation.

On Sunday, protesters who supported the army mutiny said they had had enough of Kabore even though the next presidential election isn’t until 2025.