Burkina Faso troops and cops riot, loot

2011-04-18 16:56


Ouagadougou - A mutiny in Burkina Faso spread as soldiers went on the rampage in northern Kaya, residents said on Monday, even after President Blaise Compaore's government warned they would face the law.

Soldiers and paramilitary police poured into the streets of Kaya late on Sunday and shot into the air until around 06:00 on Monday, residents said.

It was the first time police had taken part in the uprising that began in Ouagadougou late on Thursday. An official said they were demanding their wages and were to be paid on Monday.

Kaya was the fourth town to be affected in the landlocked west African state after Ouagadougou and the small centres of Po and Tenkodogo, in the southwest and southeast.

The mutinous forces in Kaya, north of the capital, torched the home of a chief of an army regiment and ransacked that of the regional military chief, residents told AFP by telephone.

The uprising erupted on Thursday as mutineers ran riot in the capital, demanding better pay and housing and food benefits.

They "have not received their pay for the month of March," said a source close to the general staff.

"They also want their bonuses to be aligned on those of the presidential guard," he said, adding, "the wages will be paid today".

Government dissolved

To try to control the situation, veteran leader Compaore, who has ruled for more than two decades, dissolved his government and on Friday named a new head of the armed forces.

His security ministry warned on Sunday that mutinous soldiers will face "the full force of the law".

"For several days, soldiers and civilians... have been using firearms in violation of regulations," the ministry said in a statement. "This state of affairs will not be tolerated in a state with the rule of law."

The ministry said it was demanding "strict respect for rules on the use of military and civilian arms and munitions" and warned that "all offenders will face the full force of the law".

Ouagadougou, which had been shut down since Thursday because of the unrest, was returning to normal on Monday, an AFP journalist said, with banks and public offices opening.

At the central market, traders were present but they did not open their stalls. On Saturday they had violently protested against the soldiers who had looted and burned many stalls and shops during the rampage.

The violence in the capital had seen at least 45 people admitted to hospital with injuries with a number of rapes also reported, a hospital source told AFP on Saturday.

Two opposition parties, the Union for Renaissance/Sankarist Party (UNIR/PS) and the Front of Social Forces (FFS), said their headquarters had been set ablaze by unidentified men during the weekend unrest.

Shops looted

Po and Tenkodogo were also calm on Monday after soldiers had opened fire in the streets and looted shops at the weekend, residents said.

In Tenkodogo soldiers had left their army camp at the weekend and went to the central market, but did not take anything, though traders shut up shop because of fear, residents said.

The soldiers fired in the air with assault rifles and "took away cars and motorcycles from private citizens", one said.

A security source said on Sunday that negotiations were under way between the authorities and the mutineers after the revolt, which was started by troops of Compaore's presidential guard.

Po, 143km from Ouagadougou and near the border with Ghana, is symbolic for Compaore, who once headed the military national centre of training and command (CNEC) there.

It was from the CNEC that as a captain Compaore and other commandos launched a military coup in 1983 against president Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo and put their friend and comrade-in-arms, Captain Thomas Sankara, in power in 1983.

But Sankara was killed in 1987 when Compaore led a coup against him and became head of state, going on to win all presidential elections since from 1991 to 2010.

Read more on:    burkina faso  |  west africa

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