Africa

Burkina Faso crisis: Shots fired at state TV station

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Media captionLaeila Adjovi in Ouagadougou: There are claims of violence against civilians

Unrest in Burkina Faso has led to state-run TV going off air for several hours after soldiers fired gunshots at its offices to force protesters and journalists to disperse.

Elsewhere, soldiers cleared thousands of demonstrators from a square in the capital and barricaded the area.

The army seized power on Friday after long-time leader Blaise Compaore quit following days of protests.

The UN has condemned the military takeover and threatened sanctions.

West Africa envoy Mohamed Ibn Chambas said the military must allow a civilian transfer of power.

The army named Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida as the leader of a transitional government on Saturday.

On Sunday evening, Lt Col Zida met opposition leaders for talks.

Following the meeting, a military spokesman said the army would put in place "a transition body... with all the components to be adopted by a broad consensus".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protesters had gathered at state TV headquarters in expectation of an announcement from opposition figures
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Opposition figure Saran Sereme arrived at state TV just before gunshots were heard
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dozens fled, some later complaining that soldiers had beaten them

Thousands of protesters gathered on Sunday at various places around Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital, to demonstrate against the army.

There were chaotic scenes as both opposition leader Saran Sereme and former Defence Minister Kwame Lougue turned up at the state TV headquarters.

The crowds believed Ms Sereme was about to announce that she was willing to lead the transition, the BBC's Laeila Adjovi in Ouagadougou reports.

Reports suggest retired General Lougue also intended to announce that he could lead the country.

However, shortly after they arrived, gunfire broke out and staff and protesters fled.


At the scene: Laeila Adjovi, BBC News, Ouagadougou

After the confusion of these past few days, the situation was very tense on Sunday in Burkina Faso's capital.

People were back on the streets this morning to demand the return of civilian rule.

But then shots were fired next to the national television station and people were scared, fleeing in all directions. After that, we saw crowds disperse and flee every time they saw an army vehicle.

Some are angry at the army. Other says the latest violence is the responsibility of the presidential guard - commanded by Col Zida.

'Country in chaos': Voices from Ouagadougou


National television resumed broadcasting a few hours later.

Witnesses told the BBC that soldiers had fired in the air to disperse protesters before forcing journalists to leave.

"We went to the national TV [station] to try to understand what is going to happen, and while a colonel was reassuring us, some troops arrived and started to shoot," protester Amadou Yamiro told the BBC.

"We don't want the army to be in power, especially the special presidential regiment," he added.

Troops also barricaded the capital's main square, Place de la Nation.

Sanctions threat

On Sunday evening, key opposition figures met Col Zida for talks.

Those present included party leader Zephirin Diabre, former Foreign Minister Ablasse Ouedraogo, ex-Prime Minister Roch Marc Christian Kabore and party leader Benewende Sankara.

However, Ms Sereme reportedly left before the talks began and there were no details on what was discussed.

Mass protests first erupted last week when long-time leader Mr Compaore attempted to extend his 27-year rule.

Parts of the parliament building were set on fire, and the president fled to Ivory Coast.

The army quickly stepped in to fill the power vacuum, declaring that Lt Col Isaac Zida would be the country's transitional leader.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Soldiers took control of state TV offices shortly after the gunfire
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The army declared Lt Col Isaac Zida interim leader after a power struggle
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Media captionAdam Kanazoe, opposition leader: "Transition needs to be headed by civilian"

He was second-in-command of the presidential guard, and his selection apparently came after a power struggle with the overall army chief, Gen Honore Traore.

Many protesters had called for Gen Lougue to lead a transitional government instead.

However, in an interview with BBC Afrique (in French), the retired general said he had been marginalised by his military colleagues.

He was forced to leave military negotiations after the atmosphere became tense and he began to fear for his life, he said.

Under Burkina Faso's constitution, the president of the Senate should take over after the national president resigns and an election should take place between 60 and 90 days afterwards.

The African Union, the US and regional economic bloc Ecowas have all condemned the military takeover.

While Mr Compaore's attempt to extend his time in office was the immediate trigger for the protests, analysts say high prices, low wages and persistent poverty have also fuelled discontent.


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