Soldiers in Burkina Faso's capital have mutinied, with gunfire resounding throughout Ouagadougou overnight. The protests began when members of the presidential guard started shooting into the air in protest at unpaid housing allowances.
Blaise Compaore is due to meet a UN envoy in the city later, officials say,
after he fled overnight. Mr Compaore, in power since 1987, had sought to calm
soldiers earlier this month after similar complaints. The BBC's Mathieu
Bonkoungou in Ouagadougou says the unrest spread to other barracks and firing
went on until just before dawn. Sporadic gunfire could still be heard on Friday.
were held on Thursday in the capital and other towns to protest at rising food
prices and alleged human rights abuses, AFP news agency reports. No-one has
slept. We had a very very hard night”
Faso, a struggling country of 16.3 million people, has been affected by the
turmoil in neighbouring Ivory Coast. The World Bank warned on Thursday that the
Ivorian conflict had disrupted supplies and also pushed up prices for processed
foods such as dried milk, sugar and vegetable oil in Burkina Faso and other
landlocked countries in the region such as Mali and Niger.
journalist Mustapha Thiombiano says since the firing stopped at about 0500 GMT,
many people have been too afraid to come out of their houses and are waiting at
their homes, listening to the radio.
23 years in power, President Blaise Compaore is facing mounting challenges
against his rule. Earlier this year, students protested in several cities
against the death in detention of a young man. Government buildings were torched
and six students were killed.
worryingly for the president, his grip on the army appears to be slipping. In
March, soldiers went on the rampage and managed to free a number of colleagues
arrested for rape.
Compaore likes to think of himself as a peacemaker, a political wheeler-dealer
in an unstable part of Africa. His critics claim that his credentials are
undermined by his own record in government.
He has promised political reforms, but after years of involvement in the
region's troubles, Mr Compaore will need all his skills to maintain control of
his own country.
has slept," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
had a very very hard night - there were gunshots from machine guns to heavy
artillery. "It started with the presidential special guard and then
followed by other military camps, so the whole city was like what you saw in
Abidjan [in Ivory Coast]." He said the house of the president's personal
chief of staff had been burned down, some buildings and shops bombarded,
including a pro-government radio station.
mutiny has come a surprise to many residents as the president had recently held
a reconciliation meeting with the security forces, listening to their demands,
Mr Thiombiano said.
Campaore has ruled the country since taking power in a coup from his friend
Thomas Sankara 23 years ago. He has since won four presidential elections, the
latest in November 2010.