December 8, 2023

December 8, 2023

Heavy Gunfire Near Burkina Faso Presidential Palace Sparks Fears Of Mutiny

Shots rang out before dawn on Friday around Burkina Faso’s presidential palace and headquarters of the military junta, which itself seized power in a coup last January, witnesses told AFP.


The government said the developing situation was linked to an “internal crisis in the army”, after AFP journalists saw troops block several main roads in the capital Ouagadougou.


Government spokesman Lionel Bilgo told AFP that “talks are continuing to try to reach a settlement without trouble.”


During the morning more shots were heard by an AFP video journalist in the Ouaga 2000 neighbourhood that houses both the presidential and military junta headquarters.


“I heard heavy detonations around 4:30 am (0430 GMT) and now the roads around my home have been sealed off by military vehicles,” said a resident who lives close to the presidential palace.


Bilgo said the “crisis” was based on claims related to salaries, and that junta leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was taking part in discussions with the men.


A government source had earlier confirmed that Damiba was “in a safe place”.


The state television was cut for several hours, broadcasting a blank screen for several hours saying: “no video signal”.


A second government source said, “The negotiations are continuing… the soldiers are maintaining pressure through their presence at strategic points they occupied this morning” in the capital.


Soldiers were seen at the city’s main crossroads, especially in Ouaga 2000 but also outside the state television centre, an AFP journalist said.


In Brussels, the EU voiced “concern” at events in the Burkina capital.


“A military movement was observed from 04:30 this morning. The situation still remains particularly confused,” said spokeswoman Nabila Massrali.


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