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Africa
Soldiers mutiny in Burkina Faso
Mutinous troops loot shops in southern town a day after a curfew was imposed on the capital after protests and riots.
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2011 15:58
A curfew was imposed in Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital, on Saturday following unrest on the streets [AFP]

Mutinous soldiers have rampaged through a southern town in Bukina Faso as the revolt against Blaise Compaore, the West African nation's ruler, enters its fourth day.

Soldiers at a military garrison in Po, near the Ghana border, fired in the air, looting and seizing private vehicles, residents told the AFP news agency.

Two people were injured in the firing, a hospital source said.

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Po, about 140km south of Ouagadougou, the capital, houses a training school for Burkinabe military officers.

The government said the soldiers were protesting over payment of housing and daily food allowances.

"These were young soldiers and there were at least 300 of them," another resident of the town told the Reuters news agency.

"They are moving through town and they continue to fire in the air. They are taking people's motorbikes and cars and breaking up shops," he said.

Burkina Faso's government warned on Sunday that it would take action against anyone using illegal arms with "the full force of the law".

"For several days, soldiers and civilians ... have been using firearms in violation of regulations," the security 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".

Curfew

Soldiers in Ouagadougou began shooting at the presidential compound late on Thursday, sparking two nights of looting by soldiers.

Hundreds of traders rioted and set fire to the headquarters of Burkina Faso's ruling party on Saturday, in protest against the soldiers looting their shops.

The defence ministry announced a curfew in Ouagadougou from 7pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday, while France warned its citizens not to travel to the country.

"The situation in Burkina Faso, especially Ouagadougou, is currently marked by tension due to the soldier's protest," the French foreign ministry said, adding that travellers also faced an increased risk of highway robbery and kidnapping.

The mutiny prompted the president to sack his government, the army chief and his head of presidential security.

Compaore, who came to power in a 1987 military coup, has faced a series of protests since February, staged first by students and then by soldiers.

He won a new five-year term in office after taking 80 per cent of the votes in November elections.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Ouagadougou last week against the high cost of living.

The country ranks 161 out of 169 countries on the UN Human Development Index, a composite measure of the quality of life.

Shops, banks and petrol stations have remained shut since Thursday.

Source:
Agencies
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