Gunfire Is Heard in Burkina Faso’s Capital, Kindling Fears of a Coup

Gunfire rang out and the state television channel went off the air in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on Friday morning, raising fears that another military coup was unfolding in the West African nation.

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

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

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

It was not immediately clear if a coup was occurring. But the pattern of how events unfolded in the country’s last coup, in January — and how a spate of coups have unfolded in the region recently — prompted worries that some soldiers might be trying to seize control from those who have held power for the past eight months.

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

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, came back on air, but did not mention the events of the morning. Instead, it aired an interview with a Muslim leader, a story about cotton farming, and an advertisement for a television show that is Senegal’s answer to “Sex and the City.”

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

“For the moment, we’re staying at home,” he said.

Oumar Zombre contributed reporting from Ouagadougou.

Back to top button