Merchants torch buildings in Burkina Faso

AP News
Posted: Apr 27, 2011 2:24 PM
Merchants torch buildings in Burkina Faso

Merchants torched several buildings in Burkina Faso's central city of Koudougou, including the mayor's home and the municipal soldiers headquarters, the mayor said Wednesday.

Seydou Zagre said the incident was sparked by a rumor that he had ordained the closure of city market shops whose owners had failed to pay taxes.

Last week students torched the ruling party headquarters and the outgoing prime minister's house in Koudougou.

A mutiny by soldiers started April 14 when members of the presidential guard began firing into the air, demanding unpaid housing allowances. By April 18, soldiers in several cities north, south, east and west of Ouagadougou joined in and students followed suit.

President Blaise Compaore tried to stem the unrest by dissolving the government and removing the country's security chiefs. He also named himself defense minister.

This year's uprisings in the impoverished West African nation began in late February when students in Koudougou protested a young man's death in police custody. The government said he had meningitis, but accusations he had been mistreated while in custody fueled protests in which at least six people died and buildings were torched.

Experts say hostilities in the landlocked West African country have been simmering for a long time.

Compaore, a former army captain, came to power in a 1987 coup in which Burkina Faso's first president, Thomas Sankara, was killed. Compaore was re-elected in November in a vote that the opposition said was rigged.