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Mutinous soldiers go on rampage as unrest spreads

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-18

Defected Burkina Faso soldiers overran a fourth town on Monday as an insurrection against veteran leader Blaise Compaore spread to the northern city of Kaya.

AFP - A mutiny in Burkina Faso spread as soldiers went on the rampage Monday in the northern town of Kaya, even after President Blaise Compaore's government warned they would face the law.
              
Soldiers and paramilitary police poured into the streets of Kaya late Sunday and shot into the air until around 6:00 am Monday, residents said.
              
It was the first time police had taken part in the uprising that began in the central capital Ouagadougou late Thursday. An official said they were demanding their wages and were to be paid Monday.
              
Kaya was the fourth town to be affected in the landlocked west African state after Ouagadougou and the small centres of Po and Tenkodogo, in the southwest and southeast.
              
The mutinous forces in Kaya torched the home of a chief of an army regiment and ransacked that of the regional military chief, residents told AFP by telephone.
              

How violence spread across sleepy Burkina Faso

Meanwhile, youths staged a violent street protest Monday in Koudougou in western Burkina Faso, burning down the premises of the ruling party and a home of ex-prime minister Tertius Zongo, witnesses said.
              
The demonstration was initially a peaceful one by students and school pupils, residents said, but it degenerated. The home of the headmaster of the town's main school was also burned down.
              
The uprising erupted Thursday as mutineers ran riot in the capital, demanding better pay and housing and food benefits.
              
They "have not received their pay for the month of March," said a source close to the general staff.
              
"They also want their bonuses to be aligned on those of the presidential guard," he said, adding, "the wages will be paid today."
              
To try to control the situation, veteran leader Compaore, who has ruled for more than two decades, dissolved his government and on Friday named a new head of the armed forces.
              
His security ministry warned Sunday that mutinous soldiers will face "the full force of the law".
              
"For several days, soldiers and civilians... have been using firearms in violation of regulations," the ministry said in a statement. "This state of affairs will not be tolerated in a state with the rule of law."
              
The ministry said it was demanding "strict respect for rules on the use of military and civilian arms and munitions" and warned that "all offenders will face the full force of the law."
              
Ouagadougou, which had been shut down since Thursday because of the unrest, was returning to normal Monday, an AFP journalist said, with banks and public offices opening.
              
At the central market, traders were present but they did not open their stalls. On Saturday they had violently protested against the soldiers who had looted and burned many stalls and shops during the rampage.
              
The violence in the capital had seen at least 45 people admitted to hospital with injuries with a number of rapes also reported, a hospital source told AFP on Saturday.
              
Two opposition parties, the Union for Renaissance/Sankarist Party (UNIR/PS) and the Front of Social Forces (FFS), said their headquarters had been set ablaze by unidentified men during the weekend unrest.
              
Po and Tenkodogo were also calm Monday after soldiers had opened fire in the streets and looted shops at the weekend, residents said.
              
In Tenkodogo soldiers had left their army camp at the weekend and went to the central market, but did not take anything, though traders shut up shop because of fear, residents said.
              
The soldiers fired in the air with assault rifles and "took away cars and motorcycles from private citizens", one said.
              
A security source said on Sunday that negotiations were under way between the authorities and the mutineers after the revolt, which was started by troops of Compaore's presidential guard.
              
Po, 143 kilometres (89 miles) from Ouagadougou and near the border with Ghana, is symbolic for Compaore, who once headed the military national centre of training and command (CNEC) there.
              
It was from the CNEC that as a captain Compaore and other commandos launched a military coup in 1983 against president Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo and put their friend and comrade-in-arms, Captain Thomas Sankara, in power in 1983.
              
But Sankara was killed in 1987 when Compaore led a coup against him and became head of state, going on to win all presidential elections since from 1991 to 2010.
 

Date created : 2011-04-17

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