Friday, April 15, 2011

Angry Burkina Faso soldiers go on a rampage

President Blaise Compaore has reportedly fled from his
 residence when the mutiny broke out [GALLO/GETTY]
Looting spree in capital Ouagadougou came after an apparent mutiny by guards at the presidential palace.

(Al Jazeera) - Disgruntled soldiers in Burkina Faso have gone on a looting spree in the capital Ouagadougou after an apparent mutiny by guards at the presidential palace overnight.

The looting on Friday came after Blaise Compaore, the president, reportedly fled his residence amid the mutiny over unpaid allowances.

The presidential compound was calm on Friday after gunfire erupted there overnight.

Soldiers looted and burned the homes of aides to Compaore, including that of General Dominique Diendiere, the chief of staff.

A government statement said the soldiers' problem was being "sorted out" and expressed regrets for any suffering during the protests.

A source from the presidential security, who spoke on condition on anonymity for security reasons, told the Associated Press news agency that the soldiers were expressing their discontent after promises to pay their housing allowances were not kept.

Colonel Moussa Cisse, a spokesman for the army, said that so far there are no casualties.

Youssouf Ouedraogo, a nurse at the main hospital in Ouagadougou, said several people injured by bullets had been brought into the hospital.

About two hours after the shooting began at 10pm (2200 GMT) on Thursday, gunfire was also heard near the state radio station. Employees at the station said no was hurt there, but some people were hiding in the building.

No official statement was made.

Compaore, who seized power in a bloody coup 23 years ago, was re-elected by a landslide in a November vote rejected by the opposition as being rigged. The former army captain took power in 1987 in the small West African nation after Thomas Sankara , the former leader, was gunned down in his office.

Burkina Faso has been hit by unrest recently. On April 8, people took to the streets of Ouagadougou to protest soaring prices of basic foods.

In March, students burnt government buildings in several cities to protest a young man's death in custody. The government said he had meningitis, but accusations of mistreatment have sparked deadly protests, killing at least six others.

Burkina Faso is near the bottom of the UN's Human Development Index, which measures general well-being. It is ranked 161 out of 169 nations and has high rates of unemployment and illiteracy. Most people survive on subsistence agriculture.