Burkina Faso: Heavy Gunfire Near Burkina Faso Presidential Palace Sparks Fears of Mutiny

Shots and a large blast were heard early Friday morning around Burkina Faso's presidential palace and the headquarters of its military junta, which seized power in a coup last January. The state broadcaster is functioning intermittently.

Several main roads in the capital Ouagadougou were blocked by troops on Friday and the Burkina Radio and Television Broadcasting Company (RTB) has been off the air for much of Friday.

"I heard heavy detonations around 4:30 am and now the roads around my home have been sealed off by military vehicles," a resident who lives close to the presidential palace told AFP.

A large blast was later heard near the presidential palace where armed soldiers have taken positions.

Troops were stationed on the main crossroads of the city, especially in the Ouaga 2000 neighbourhood that is home to the presidential and military junta headquarters, but also outside RTB headquarters.

A security source told RFI correspondent Yaya Boudani that the gunfire was linked to "demands", without providing further details. Burkina Faso is currently led by a military junta under Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

On Thursday, hundreds of people took to the streets in the city of Bobo Dioulasso in the west of the country, demanding his resignation.

A spokesperson for the interim presidency told France 24 that Damiba was unhurt in Friday morning's gunfire.

The cause of the gunfire and the detonations was not immediately clear, but sources say police and military are increasingly unhappy with Damiba's handling of security.

It comes just four days after unknown assailants attacked a convoy in the north of the country, killing 11 soldiers. Around 50 civilians are missing.

Several posts on social media indicated that Lieutenant-colonel Zoungrana had instigated what some are calling a mutiny. Zoungrana was arrested in January this year, suspected of preparing a military coup.

Ongoing insurgency

The junta took power in a coup on 24 January, 2022, ousting President Roch Kabore and dissolving the government.

In his first statement at the time, coup leader Damiba vowed to restore security after years of violence carried out by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

But the security situation has not improved.

More than 40 percent of the country, a former French colony, is outside government control.

Thousands have died and about two million have been displaced by the fighting since 2015 when the insurgency spread into Burkina Faso.

Much of the Sahel region is battling the insurgency, which began in neighbouring Mali in 2012 and which also spread to Niger.

In recent years, the violence has begun to spill over into coastal states Cote d'Ivoire and Togo.

(with newswires)

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