Burma President arrested by soldiers after mutiny

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Burma President arrested by soldiers after mutiny

One day after troops staged a mutiny in the jihadist-wracked country, the president of Burkina Faso was arrested and detained by soldiers with members of his cabinet, security sources said.

On Sunday, soldiers rose up at several army bases across the West African state, demanding the sacking of the military top brass and more resources to fight the Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2015.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who has been in power since 2015 and vows to fight the insurgency in 2020, has faced rising public anger over failure to stop the bloodshed.

A security source said on Monday that President Kabore, the head of parliament and ministers, are effectively in the hands of soldiers at Sangoule Lamizana barracks in the capital of Ouagadougou. A second security source confirmed the arrest.

The situation was tense and confused in the capital, where the mobile internet had been cut on Sunday, making it difficult to verify rumours of a coup in progress.

An AFP journalist said around 10 hooded troops deployed in front of the headquarters of the national broadcaster RTB on Monday, but it was not immediately clear if they were from the mutineers or had been sent in by the government.

Burkina Faso has seen several coups or attempted coups. In neighbouring Mali where the insurgency began before crossing the border, the military overtoppled the civilian government in 2020.

The latest instability in Burkina Faso began early on Sunday when gunfire was heard at several military bases, including two in Ouagadougou.

Later in the day, witnesses reported seeing a helicopter above it, near Kabore's private residence in Ouagadougou.

A group of protesters supported the soldiers set up makeshift roadblocks on several main streets in the capital before being dispersed by police, AFP journalists said.

The rebels presented a list of demands that emphasised the need for a better anti-jihadist strategy, but did not mention trying to oust Kabore.

A soldier from Sangoule Lamizana base in Ouagadougou said in a voice recording received by AFP that they wanted adequate resources for the battle against Islamist extremists.

The soldiers who have been killed in the battle want top generals to be replaced with better care for wounded troops and more support for the families of soldiers who were killed in the battle, the spokesman for the mutinous troops added in the anonymous recording.

The talks between soldiers and defence minister General Barthelemy Simpore didn't make progress, a government source said.

On Saturday, police had used tear to disperse banned protests against the government's anti-jihadist strategies, arresting dozens.

On Sunday, demonstrators set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party.

Before reports of the president's arrest, the government had denied an army takeover. In response to the unrest, authorities have declared an overnight curfew from 8: 00 pm 2000 GMT until further notice and the education ministry said schools would be closed Monday and Tuesday.

The Sangoule Lamizana camp where Kabore is held also houses a military prison where General Gilbert Diendere, a former right-hand man to deposed President Blaise Compaore, is serving a 20 year term for an attempted coup in 2015.

Diendere is also on trial for his alleged part in the 1987 assassination of the country's revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara, during a putsch that brought Compaore to power.

A hearing on arguments scheduled for Monday in the Sankara assassination trial was postponed until a later date, a judicial source said.

The turbulence coincides with a jihadist insurgency that swept in from Mali in 2015, overwhelming Burkina's poorly trained and badly equipped armed forces.

Around 2,000 people have died, according to an AFP tally, while around 1.5 million people are internally displaced, according to the national emergency agency CONASUR.