Gunshots are heard in Burkina Faso’s capital, stoking fears of a coup

Shots were heard and the state television channel went off the air in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on Friday morning, sparking fears that another military coup was unfolding in the West African nation.

Soldiers blocked roads in Ouagadougou in areas near the presidential palace and where the government administration is located.

Nicodeme Natama, an office worker who lives in the capital near a military base called Camp Baba Sy, said he heard an explosion around 4 am, thinking at first it was rain.

“The second explosion brought reality home,” he said by phone. Then, he added, she began to hear gunshots.

It was not immediately clear if a hit was taking place. But the pattern of how events unfolded in the country’s last coup, in January, and how a series of coups have unfolded in the region recently, raised concerns that some soldiers may be trying to take control. of those who have held power for the last eight years. months.

Many people in Burkina Faso welcomed the January coup, hoping it would help bring about change in a nation that, like several of its neighbors, has suffered devastating attacks in recent years. Extremists, vigilantes and soldiers have killed civilians. Narrowly two million people they have fled their homes and many more are starving.

But the change in government has done little to improve the security situation. This month, at least 35 civilians were killed after a convoy of vehicles hit a roadside bomb.

Later on Friday morning, the state broadcaster, RTB, was back on the air, but made no mention of the morning’s events. Instead, she broadcast an interview with a Muslim leader, a history of cotton farmingand an advertisement for a TV show that is Senegal’s answer to “Sex and the City”.

Still, Natama said, he would wait to make sure the area was safe before venturing to his office in another neighborhood.

“For the moment, we stay home,” he said.

Oumar Zombre contributed reporting from Ouagadougou.