Burkina Faso army troops fired gunshots Wednesday to disperse demonstrators near the presidential palace in the capital Ouagadougou where the president and prime minister were being detained by guards loyal to ousted leader Blaise Compaore, an AFP journalist said.
It was impossible to immediately verify whether the shots were live rounds or whether they had wounded any of the several hundred protesters gathering near the palace to condemn the presidential guard’s actions.
AFP reports that members of Compaore’s Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) “burst into the cabinet room at 2:30 pm and kidnapped the president of Burkina Faso Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida, and two ministers (Augustin Loada and Rene Bagoro),” interim parliament speaker, Moumina Cheriff Sy said in a statement sent to AFP.
Armed soldiers were later deployed around the palace.
Sy said: “I call on all patriots to mobilise to defend the motherland,” Sy said, calling the detention of the president and prime minister “a serious attack on the republic”.
“Duty calls us because the Burkinabe nation is in danger,” Sy said. “We call on the solidarity that active forces, political forces, civil society and the international community have with all the people of Burkina Faso to defeat this operation.”
Compaore was toppled October 2014 and fled into exile in Ivory Coast after a popular uprising triggered by his attempt to extend his 27-year rule.
A transitional government has been charged with running the poverty-stricken Sahel nation country until presidential and legislative elections are held, the first round of which is to take place on October 11.
The RSP has repeatedly tried to disrupt the ongoing transition.
On Monday the country’s National Reconciliation and Reforms Commission recommended that the 1,300-man security force, considered the country’s best troops, be disbanded.
The RSP sparked a brief political crisis in June by demanding the resignation of Zida, an army lieutenant-colonel and number two in the powerful regiment, who had publicly called for the unit to be dissolved in the interest of national security.