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Africa

Mutinous mood spreads to students and police

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-18

Violent unrest hit more cities in Burkina Faso on Monday as police joined a soldier mutiny in a northern town and students rioted in the country's west.

AFP - A mutiny in Burkina Faso spread Monday as police joined soldiers on a rampage in a northern town, and students staged violent protests in the west against President Blaise Compaore's regime.

Soldiers and paramilitary police poured into the streets of the northern town of Kaya, firing shots into the air, and torching the home of an army regiment chief and ransacking that of a regional officer, residents told AFP by telephone.
              
It was the first time police had taken part in the uprising that began in the 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 south.
             
How violence spread across sleepy Burkina Faso
Meanwhile, protesting youths in Koudougou in western Burkina Faso also turned to violence, 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.
             
"We want to make the ruling power... look into our concerns" and establish "truth and justice for Justin Zongo and all victims of repression," the students said in a statement sent to AFP.
             
They were referring to a student who died in a February demonstration, killed by police according to his relatives while authorities said the boy was ill.
             
The latest wave of protests 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 that "the wages will be paid today."
             
To try to control the situation, veteran leader Compaore, who has ruled for more than two decades, Friday dissolved his government and named a new head of the armed forces.
             
"For several days, soldiers and civilians... have been using firearms in violation of regulations," the security ministry said in a statement Sunday. "This state of affairs will not be tolerated in a state with the rule of law."
             
Ouagadougou, which had been shut down since Thursday because of the unrest, was returning to normal Monday, with banks and public offices opening.
             
But traders refused to open their stalls at the central market, though they were present. On Saturday they had violently protested against the soldiers who had looted and burned their businesses during the rampage.
             
The violence in the capital had seen at least 45 people admitted to hospital with injuries while a number of rapes were also reported, a hospital source told AFP on Saturday.
             
Po and Tenkodogo were also calm Monday after soldiers had opened fire in the streets and looted shops at the weekend, residents said.
             
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 : 2011-04-18

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