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Heavy Gunfire at Burkina Faso Base     01/23 09:23

   Heavy gunfire rang out at a military base in Burkina Faso's capital early 
Sunday, prompting fears that a coup attempt was underway after weeks of growing 
frustration with the government's handling of the Islamic insurgency wracking 
the West African country.

   OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) -- Heavy gunfire rang out at a military base 
in Burkina Faso's capital early Sunday, prompting fears that a coup attempt was 
underway after weeks of growing frustration with the government's handling of 
the Islamic insurgency wracking the West African country.

   The mutinous soldiers seized control of the Lamizana Sangoule military 
barracks in Ouagadougou, the capital. The government put out a statement 
acknowledging gunfire in army barracks but denying an army takeover of the 
country.

   Defense Minister Aime Barthelemy Simpore told state broadcaster RTB that a 
few barracks had been affected not only in Ouagadougou but in "some cities 
elsewhere." He denied, however, that President Roch Marc Christian Kabore had 
been detained by the mutinous soldiers, even though his whereabouts remained 
unknown.

   A news headline on the state broadcaster described the gunfire as "acts of 
discontent by soldiers."

   "The military hierarchy is working to restore calm and serenity in the 
barracks," it read. "Contrary to some information, no institution of the 
republic has been targeted."

   At the Lamizana Sangoule military barracks, however, angry soldiers shot 
into the air Sunday, directing their anger over army casualties at the 
president. About 100 motorcycles later left the base, chanting in support of 
the mutineers, but were stopped when security forces deployed tear gas.

   The soldiers put a man on the phone with The Associated Press who said that 
they were seeking better working conditions for Burkina Faso's military amid 
the escalating fight against Islamic militants. Among their demands are 
increased manpower in the battle against extremists, and better care for those 
wounded and the families of the dead. The mutinous soldiers also want the 
military and intelligence hierarchy replaced, he said.

   The gunfire comes a day after protesters demanded his resignation at a 
demonstration in Ouagadougou. Kabore has faced growing opposition since his 
reelection in November 2020. Last month he fired his prime minister and 
replaced most of the Cabinet.

   Violence in the once peaceful West African nation is escalating as attacks 
linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group increase. Thousands have died in 
recent years and around 1.5 million people have been displaced.

 
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