Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the president of Burkina Faso, is being held by mutinous soldiers, two of the soldiers told The Associated Press early Monday. Heavy gunfire was reported outside the presidential residence in Ouagadougou, the West African nation's capital, on Sunday night and early Monday. The state news broadcaster RTB was under heavy guard Monday morning.
Kabore, elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2020, has faced increasing public frustration over his inability to stop an insurgency by Islamist militants who have taken over sizable parts of the country. A suspected Islamist attack in November killed 53 people, mostly members of the security force. But one of the mutinous soldiers told AP a group of about 100 soldiers has been secretly planning to overthrow Kabore since August. Eleven soldiers were arrested last week for an alleged coup plot.
After the mutineers took control of the Lamizana Sangoule military barracks in Ouagadougou on Sunday, the government downplayed the uprising. "Well, it's a few barracks," Defense Minister Aime Barthelemy Simpore told RTB on Sunday, denying that Kabore had been seized. "There are not too many." That was the last statement from the government. Kabore hasn't been heard from since he congratulated the national soccer team on social media Sunday night.
The uprising has at least some popular support. Civilians came out to support the mutineers on Sunday but were dispersed by security forces and the capital was put under curfew.
If Kabore ends up deposed, that would be the region's third successful coup in the past 18 months, following the overthrow of the presidents of Mali and Guinea. The military also took control of Chad last year after President Idriss Deby died in battle.