Burkina Faso arrests four ex-presidential guards for armory raid

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 24, 2016 8:25 AM

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso has arrested four of seven members of its dissolved presidential guard who were wanted in connection with an attack two days ago on an armory near the capital Ouagadougou, the army said on Sunday.

Burkina Faso is still reeling from an attack by gunmen on a hotel and restaurant on Jan. 15 that was claimed by Islamist militants and during which 30 people were killed, most of them foreigners.

The arrests came hours after the landlocked West African country's armed forces published the names and images of the guards who were on the run in local media. Another guard who had also fled died after a gun battle, the army's statement said.

The three men were captured when they tried to cross the border with Ghana, the army said, adding:

"One among them opened fire on our intervening forces, leading to a riposte. Gravely wounded, he succumbed to his injuries during his transfer to the hospital by helicopter."

Authorities are continuing to search for the two guards who remain at large.

The authorities had already arrested 11 members of the disbanded elite guards in connection with Friday's raid, during which army officials said the attackers seized Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers.

The elite presidential guard was disbanded after members loyal to former president Blaise Compaore mounted a six-day coup against Burkina Faso's transitional government last September in which members of the cabinet were taken hostage, before handing power back to the government under heavy international pressure.

On Saturday authorities also arrested Eddie Komboigo, the president of Compaore's former ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress, according to security sources.

It was not immediately clear what the charges against him were but he had previously been cited in a report written by the commission investigating the September coup.

Friday's raid is the first time the disbanded guard has carried out an action of this kind since its coup attempt failed.

The West African country has been fragile since popular protests in 2014 ousted longtime leader Compaore, who had sought to amend the constitution to prolong his 27-year rule.

Roch Marc Kabore was elected president in November, ending more than a year of transitional rule.

(Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Sandra Maler)