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Burkina Faso coup talk denied after heavy firing heard

BURKINA FASO’S government dismissed rumours of a military coup yesterday after heavy gunfire was heard at army bases across the country.

In the capital Ouagadougou, shooting was heard at the Sangoule Lamizana camp, which houses the army’s general staff, at 5am. It continued for about two hours.

The military base is also home to a prison where a number of the inmates are soldiers who were involved in a failed coup in 2015. 

Among the detainees is General Gilbert Diendere, a close ally of former president Blaise Compaore, who was overthrown in 2014.

Gen Diendere led the failed 2015 coup and is currently on trial in connection with the killing of another former president, Thomas Sankara, during a 1987 coup. 

According to locals, shots were also heard at the Baby Sy camp south of the capital and at a base close to the international airport.

More gunfire was reported at barracks in the northern towns of Kaya and Ouahigouya, according to residents.

About a dozen soldiers were detained earlier this month and accused of conspiring against the government.

There have been months of protests in Burkina Faso demanding the resignation of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

On Saturday, security forces fired tear gas as people defied a ban on demonstrations and took to the streets to vent anger at the government’s inability to contain a jihadist insurgency that caused more than 2,000 deaths last year.

Many protesters also showed solidarity with neighbouring Mali, which has been hit by sanctions by the west African regional economic bloc Ecowas.

The punitive measures were imposed after the military government delayed elections planned for February, but they have triggered an angry response by impoverished Malians.

Hundreds of thousands have thronged the streets in support of the interim administration, calling for an end to French neocolonialism. They accuse Paris of war crimes and fuelling Islamist violence in the region.

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