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Compaoré returns to capital after soldiers mutiny

media Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaoré. AFP/O. Morin

Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré returned to Ouagadougou on Friday, after fleeing the capital when his armed guard launched a mutiny. Witnesses say other soldiers joined in the rebellion, with gunfire and looting reported throughout the night.

Compaoré is now back in the presidential palace, where he is due to meet the head of the UN peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire, Choi Young-jin, later on Friday.

The president sought refuge in his hometown of Ziniaré, 30 km north of the capital, after members of the presidential guard began firing into the air on Thursday night.

They are understood to have been protesting over housing subsidies that hadn’t been paid.

The riot then spread to other army barracks in Ouagadougou. Both small are large weapons were fired, and witnesses reported seeing soldiers loot shops and houses belonging to officers. The home of Compaoré’s chief of staff, Gilbert Diendiéré, was burned down.

According to Compaoré, the soldiers agreed to talks and laid down their weapons.

One witness told RFI the situation seemed to be back to normal by Friday morning: “The firing from heavy weapons stopped around 3 am, gunfire continued until around 5 or 6 but only from light arms. Things have calmed down. People are going out, they’re going to work, children are going to school.”

The mutiny came after a day of demonstrations in Ouagadougou and ten other cities. Thousands of people took to the streets in protest at high living costs.

Compaoré has been in power since a military coup in 1987. He was re-elected last November with more than 80 per cent of the vote, though the opposition complained of fraud.

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