Coup fears in Burkina Faso as gunfire erupts and soldiers block government buildings

Events in Ouagadougou bear hallmark of other recent power grabs across region

Zoe Tidman
Friday 30 September 2022 18:00 BST
Burkina Faso soldiers are seen deployed in Ouagadougou on Friday
Burkina Faso soldiers are seen deployed in Ouagadougou on Friday (AFP/Getty)

Heavy gunfire in the capital of Burkina Faso and a large blast near its presidential palace has sparked rumours of a possible coup against the military government.

Soldiers have taken up positions along the presidency’s avenue and blocked access to government buildings and national television, which was off-air on Friday.

Military vehicles were spotted along several streets that remained deserted as residents stayed indoors.

There has not yet been any official confirmation of a coup.

Even so, the events in Ouagadougou bore the hallmarks of other power grabs that have swept across west and central Africa over the past two years.

They follow protests against the military that have erupted in cities across the country this week.

The gunfire and mobilisiation of soldiers in the capital on Friday comes just nine months after a military junta seized control in a coup and put Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba in charge.

The president has just returned back to Burkina Faso from a trip to the United Nations General Assembly.

His takeover in January was largely celebrated by civilians fed up with the former president – who was democratically elected – and a civilian government that was unable to rein in Islamist militants who have killed thousands of civilians in recent years and taken over large parts of the north and east.

However, Mr Damiba – who vowed to restore security – has faced mounting criticism over unabated attacks by Islamic extremists since taking control.

Just this week, 11 were killed and 50 civilians missing following an attack on a convoy taking supplies to a northern town.

Additional reporting by agencies

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