Burkina Faso says troops quell soldier unrest

AP News
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Posted: Jun 03, 2011 11:11 AM
Burkina Faso says troops quell soldier unrest

Burkina Faso's government said its troops have forcefully disarmed rampaging soldiers on Friday after three days of looting and shooting in the air, the latest episode of unrest in the impoverished West African nation.

The government said in a statement that it could not immediately give a casualty toll from the fighting in Bobo-Dioulasso, the country's second-largest city.

Troops entered the city Friday after the unruly soldiers ignored a Thursday night curfew and looted shops overnight. Residents on Thursday also torched cars and ransacked to protest the looting.

Witnesses said earlier Friday that they heard heavy gunfire in the city.

Earlier this week, soldiers near the capital and in the north shot into the air.

The unrest comes more than a month after a mutiny had threatened President Blaise Compaore's 24-year rule.

On April 14, 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.

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 began in late February when students in Koudougou protested over their claims that a young man was mistreated and died in police custody. The government said he had meningitis and says five policemen will appear in court over the incident later this month. But that protest fueled more protests, in which at least six people died and buildings were torched.

Experts say hostilities in the landlocked nation 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.