Burkina Faso arrests ex-presidential guards over raid

Ten members of unit loyal to former president Blaise Compaore held as new leader continues to face security challenges.

Soldiers stand outside an arms depot in Yimdi
The arrested soldiers come from the former presidential guard which was behind a failed coup in September. [Nabil El Hadad/Reuters]

Ten soldiers from a disbanded elite unite loyal to Burkina Faso’s former president have been arrested over a raid on an armoury outside the capital Ouagadougou, the army said.

The pre-dawn raid on Friday at the weapons warehouse underscored the challenges facing new President Roch March Christian Kabore, a week after al-Qaeda fighters attacked a hotel and cafe in the capital, killing at least 30 people.

Army officials said that kalashnikov rifles and rocket launchers taken in the raid were not loaded and that no ammunition had been stolen. Officials have not specified how many weapons were seized.

The arrested soldiers come from Burkina Faso’s former presidential guard (the RSP), which was also behind a brief, failed coup last September.
Willy Yameogo, director of communications for the army, said that one civilian was also arrested in connection with the raid. He described that person as a “religious” figure but did not provide details.

Burkina Faso is emerging from a fragile transition period following the ousting of long-time president Blaise Compaore in October 2014. A year later, Compaore’s former spy chief General Gilbert Diendere tried to use the RSP to overthrow an interim government, just a week before presidential elections.

Diendere was jailed for treason and the presidential guard – which had been a pillar of Compaore’s rule – was quickly dissolved, although some of its members disappeared.

Col. Gaoussou Coulibaly, head of the army operations unit, called the raid “an act of revenge by some of the former guards who are not happy with thier new situation.”

Source: News Agencies