Burkina Faso traders riot over lootings

Merchants set fire to ruling party's headquarters after officials fail to stop soldiers ransacking their shops.

    Smoke could be seen in Ouagadougou after rioters set fire to the ruling party's headquarters [AFP]

    Hundreds of traders in Burkina Faso have taken to the streets of Ouagadougou, setting fire to the headquarters of the country's ruling party in protest after mutinous soldiers looted their shops.

    Merchants  on Saturday ransacked the National Assembly, the trade ministry and other public buildings in the capital, according to a witness quoted by the Reuters news agency.

    "We are angry against the soldiers who have looted our stores, and also against the government that is doing nothing to stop the looting," Abdoulaye, a mobile phone trader who declined to give his second name, said.

     

    "Among us are people who have lost everything ... and do not even know yet whether they will be reimbursed. We're fed up."

    The Associated Press reported witnesses as saying soldiers had robbed hotels early on Saturday and were continuing to loot shops and steal cars.

    The merchant's protest follows a mutiny by soldiers on Thursday who demanded the payment of promised bonuses.

    Soldiers looted consumer goods' stores in the city centre and ransacked a private radio station, with several civilians reported injured.

    Shooting was also reported at the presidential compound.

    Shops, banks, petrol stations and other licensed premises have remain shut since Thursday night.

    The mutiny prompted Blaise Compaore, the president, on Friday 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.

    The president strove to reassert his authority on Friday, holding talks on the grievances of the soldiers, which included housing and food allowances.

    A military source later said that their demands had been met.

    Burkina Faso ranks 161 out of 169 countries on the UN's Human Development Index, a composite measure of life quality.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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