Details of how Burkina Faso President Kabore was allegedly detained at a military camp according to natives who lived close by.
Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore has been detained at a military camp by mutinying soldiers, four security sources and a West African diplomat said on Monday, following heavy gunfire around his residence on Sunday night in the capital Ouagadougou.
His detention comes after sustained gunfire rang out from military camps in the West African country throughout Sunday, with soldiers demanding more support for their fight against Islamist militants. The government had denied that the army had seized power.
Kabore’s exact whereabouts or situation were unknown on Monday morning, with conflicting reports circulating among security and diplomatic sources.
Several armoured vehicles of the presidential fleet, riddled with bullets, could be seen near the president’s residence. One was spattered with blood. Residents of the president’s neighbourhood reported heavy gunfire overnight.
Three armoured vehicles and soldiers wearing balaclavas were stationed outside the headquarters of the state broadcaster.
Government sources could not immediately be reached on Monday.
The French embassy, in a message on its website, advised French nationals in Burkina Faso against going out during the day for non-essential reasons, or at all at night.
“The situation remains quite confusing,” it said, adding that two Air France flights scheduled for Monday night had been cancelled and that French schools would remain closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Several people in the area around Kabore’s home told The Associated Press and AFP news agencies that they had heard gunfire and there were helicopters hovering overhead. A mutinous soldier also told AP by phone that heavy fighting was underway near the presidential palace, a claim that could not immediately be independently corroborated.
The unrest at Sangoule Lamizana camp, which houses the army’s general staff and a prison whose inmates include soldiers involved in a failed 2015 coup attempt, began as early as 5 am (05:00 GMT) on Sunday, according to a Reuters news agency reporter.
The reporter later saw soldiers firing into the air in the camp. A witness also reported gunfire at a military camp in Kaya, about 100km (62 miles) north of Ouagadougou. Shots were heard at another military camp, Baby Sy, in the south of the capital, and at an airbase near the airport, military sources said.
Speaking on national television on Sunday, Defence Minister, General Bathelemy Simpore denied rumours that Kabore had been detained, and said the motive behind the gunfire was still unclear.
“The head of state has not been detained; no institution of the country has been threatened,” Simpore said. “For now, we don’t know their motives or what they are demanding. We are trying to get in contact with them,” he said, adding that calm had returned to some of the barracks.
The authorities later declared an overnight curfew from 8pm (20:00 GMT) “until further notice” and the education ministry said schools would be closed on Monday and Tuesday across the country.
Protesters siding with the mutinous soldiers had set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party in the capital earlier on Sunday, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.
The blaze destroyed the ground floor of the building of the People’s Movement for Progress (MPP) party, where protesters also vandalised the facade before being dispersed by police firing tear gas, the reporter said.
The unrest came a day after clashes between police and demonstrators during protests against the authorities’ failure to stem violence ravaging the country.
It also follows the arrest earlier this month of numerous soldiers over a suspected plot to “destabilise institutions” in the country, which has a long history of coups.
A soldier leading the mutiny in one barracks told Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, who is based in Senegal, that they had six demands for the government.
“One is hiring more troops to fight on the front lines against groups linked to ISIL [and] al-Qaeda,” Haque said.
“They also demand better care for the wounded and the families of those who lost their loved ones as well as better wages, training and forming of permanent battalions to deal with threats. [The mutineers’ demands] fall short of asking President Kabore to resign, but in their latest statement they say that if their demands are not met, then they will ask for Kabore to step down,” Haque added.
A voice recording obtained by AFP included similar demands.
“We want adequate resources for the battle” against hardline groups, a soldier from the Sangoule Lamizana base in Ouagadougou, was heard saying on the recording, the news agency said.
The disaffected soldiers also wanted top generals to be “replaced”, better care for wounded troops and more support for the families of soldiers killed in battle, the spokesman for the mutinous troops added in the anonymous recording.
Journalist Henry Wilkins, reporting from Ouagadougou, told Al Jazeera on Sunday evening that he did not think the government’s claims that the mutiny was under control were accurate.
“It doesn’t appear to be turning into a full-scale coup – I think mutiny is the certainly the best word to use to describe what’s happening at the moment. The mutiny is still ongoing however,” he said.
“And we are now hearing there could be plans to continue the mutiny into a second day, and possibly even merging the mutiny with protesters who tried to assemble in the centre of Ouagadougou [on Sunday] but were dispersed by police using tear gas.”