Burkina Faso gov’t denies army takeover after barracks gunfire

Burkina Faso’s government says the army has not seized control of the country after exchanges of gunfire took place at multiple army barracks, including two in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Heavy arms fire on Sunday at Sangoule Lamizana camp, which houses the army’s general staff and a prison whose inmates include soldiers involved in a failed 2015 coup attempt, began as early as 5am (05:00 GMT), a Reuters news agency reporter said.
The reporter later saw soldiers firing into the air in the camp. A witness also reported gunfire at a military camp in Kaya, about 100km (62 miles) north of Ouagadougou.
Shots were heard at another military camp, Baby Sy, in the south of the capital, and at an airbase near the airport, military sources said.
Burkina Faso’s government confirmed gunfire at some military camps, but denied reports on social media that the army had seized power.
Speaking on national television on Sunday, Defence Minister, General Bathelemy Simpore, denied rumours that President Roch Marc Kabore had been detained, adding the motive behind the gunfire was still unclear.
“The head of state has not been detained; no institution of the country has been threatened,” Simpore said. “For now, we do not know their motives or what they are demanding.
We are trying to get in contact with them,” he said, adding that calm had returned to some of the barracks.
Protesters siding with soldiers who staged mutinies at several barracks set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party in the capital on Sunday, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.
The blaze destroyed the ground floor of the building of the People’s Movement for Progress (MPP) party, where protesters also vandalised the facade before being dispersed by police firing tear gas, the reporter said.
The unrest came a day after clashes between police and demonstrators during protests against the authorities’ failure to stem violence ravaging the West African country.
It also followed the arrest earlier this month of numerous soldiers over a suspected plot to “destabilise institutions” in the country, which has a long history of coups. -AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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