Burkina Faso military officials announce dissolution of government, leader’s removal

The content originally appeared on: CNN

Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou on Friday woke up to the sounds of gunfire and the country’s national broadcaster was temporarily taken off the air, a source told CNN Friday.

The country’s military junta, which took power in a coup in late January, acknowledged an attack “following a mood swing by some elements of the National Armed Forces” and said talks were underway to restore calm.

“The enemy that is attacking our country only wants to create division among Burkinabes to accomplish its destabilization,” Burkina Faso President Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba said in a Facebook statement Friday. Damiba urged citizens to remain calm.

The streets of Ouagadougou have since returned to normality and people were going about their business, the source told CNN.

The source added that soldiers were guarding the presidential palace and the building that houses the national broadcaster but were not exhibiting any aggressive behavior toward civilians.

Heavy gunfire was heard coming from the main military camp and some residential areas of Ouagadougou early on Friday morning.

Several armed soldiers were seen taking positions along the main avenue leading to the presidency.

Soldiers were also seen blocking access to administrative buildings and the national television.

The military junta took power in a coup on Jan. 24, ousting President Roch Kabore and dissolving the government.

But attacks persist and the army is in disarray. This week, unknown assailants killed eleven soldiers during an attack on a 150-vehicle convoy taking supplies to a town in northern Burkina Faso.

Fifty civilians are missing.

Large areas of the north and east have become ungovernable since 2018. Millions have fled their homes, fearing further raids by gunmen who frequently descend on rural communities on motorbikes. Thousands have been killed in attacks.

The West African country, one of the world’s poorest, has become the epicenter of the violence that began in neighboring Mali in 2012 but which has since spread across the arid expanse of the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert.

In his first statement at the time, coup leader Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba vowed to restore security after years of violence carried out by Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.