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Heavy gunfire in the capital of Burkina Faso

Heavy gunfire in the capital of Burkina Faso

Heavy gunfire in the capital of Burkina Faso
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  • Heavy gunfire heard near military barracks and residential areas of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou.
  • Large blast also heard near presidential palace where soldiers have taken up positions.
  • It was not clear yet if this was a coup attempt, but bore hallmarks of other power grabs.
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Soldiers are on the streets, and heavy gunfire has been heard near Burkina Faso’s main military camp and residential areas. On Friday, a large explosion rang out near the presidential palace, where soldiers had taken up positions.

Soldiers were seen patrolling the main avenue leading to the presidential palace, administrative buildings, and the national television station, which had ceased operations. According to journalists, state television instead displayed a blank screen with the words “no video signal.”

Troops blocked several major roads in Ouagadougou. A spokesman for the military government that took power in January could not be reached.

Although it was unclear whether this was a coup attempt, it bore the hallmarks of other power grabs that have swept across West and Central Africa in the last two years.

There was no public announcement about the motivation for the troop movements in Ouagadougou.

“This smells like a coup,” Eric Humphery-Smith, senior Africa analyst at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, said. “While gunfire near military barracks could be the result of a mutiny, the closure of the national television station portends disaster.”

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Burkina Faso has emerged as the epicentre of regional violence, which began in neighbouring Mali in 2012 and has since spread across the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert.

More than 40% of Burkina Faso, a former French colony, is now outside the control of the government. In recent years, armed groups’ violence has spread to the Ivory Coast and Togo.

Ornella Moderan, a Sahel security analyst, said social media was rife with rumours about what was going on in the country.

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