Dozens of supporters of the Burkina Faso military coup has stormed a hotel in the capital Ouagadougou hosting efforts to end the country’s post-putsch crisis, witnesses have said.
The incident took place as anti-coup crowds in front of the hotel awaited news of the talks. Some of the attackers carried signs expressing support for the current military government and were headed by the elite presidential guard, the RSP, witnesses said.
The RSP burst into a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, disrupting a transition period due to end with elections on October 11.
“They invaded the hotel. It was violent,” told a witness to the Reuters news agency.
“They attacked ex-opposition members as they arrived. One had to be saved from the crowd by security forces.”
Most of the participants in the talks, including foreign ambassadors, had already arrived at the Laico Hotel in the capital Ouagadougou when the incident occurred.
“I am with my colleagues. We are okay. We have not been taken hostage. We are free,” France’s ambassador to Burkina Faso Gilles Thibault said via his Twitter account.
The US embassy in Ouagadougou also announced that its ambassador was safe.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall, the current chairman of West Africa’s regional bloc, Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), is leading the mediation efforts. He left the hotel after the incident.
Future of talks unclear
It was unclear if the negotiations, which were meant to be attended by, among others, members of the civil society, political parties and the military, would go ahead in spite of the violence.
Anti-coup demonstrators had been grouping across the street from the hotel on Sunday morning ahead of the meeting when members of the RSP presidential guard arrived and began beating them, another witness said.
Compaore was overthrown last year in a popular uprising by those opposed to his attempts to change the constitution and extend his 27-year rule. The country had since been headed by a transitional government charged with organising next month’s elections.
General Gilebert Diendere, Compaore’s former spy chief and right hand man, said he carried out the coup over plans to disband the presidential guard and because several of the former president’s allies were barred from taking part in the polls.