Police fire tear gas at protesters as anger rises over attacks in Burkina Faso

Police fired tear gas in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, on Saturday during a demonstration against the government’s failure to stop a wave of violence by Islamist militants.

Opponents of President Roch Kaboré called for new protests in response to a recent spate of attacks in Burkina Faso, including one by al Qaeda-linked militants that killed dozens of military police and four civilians.

On Saturday, riot police fired tear gas to prevent protesters from gathering for the rally in a square in central Ouagadougou, where major police and security forces had been deployed and all shops were closed.

One of the protesters, Fabrice Sawadogo, 28, said that “after seven years without preventing terrorist attacks … it is time to ask the government to leave.”

The “incompetent” administration “has to admit that it has failed,” he said.

Security agents fired tear gas canisters to disperse about 100 protesters who were trying to march towards the center of Ouagadougou.

After retreating to the side streets, the protesters began to set up barricades and burn tires and garbage cans.

The angry public response to the latest attacks has puzzled authorities, who cut off mobile internet access a week ago and refused to authorize Saturday’s demonstration.

A three-group alliance called the November 27 Coalition had called for people to take to the streets on Saturday “in a peaceful environment to denounce the growing insecurity and demand the departure” of Kabore.

But other civil society groups distanced themselves from the protests, refusing, they said, “to be complicit with those who want to lead the country into chaos.”

The security situation deteriorates

Militant groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group have plagued the landlocked West African nation since 2015, killing some 2,000 people and displacing 1.4 million from their homes.

In an attack on November 14, hundreds of fighters stormed a gendarmerie camp in Inata, in the north of the country, killing at least 48 military police and four civilians.

It was the largest daily loss among the security forces in the history of the insurgency.

Since then, the country has seen scattered protests.

French military convoy arrives in Niger

A French military convoy bound for Mali arrived in Niger after being delayed for more than a week by protests in Burkina Faso, the French military said on Friday.

The supply convoy of several dozen vehicles arrived in Africa in the Ivory Coast last week and had to transit through Burkina Faso and Niger before reaching central Mali.

But after entering Burkina Faso last week, the convoy was stopped by protesters in Bobo-Dioulasso, the country’s second-largest city, and then Ouagadougou.

On November 19, several thousand protesters blocked the convoy in Kaya, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Ouagadougou.

The following day, four people suffered gunshot wounds in Kaya, in circumstances that are not yet clear: French and Burkinabe soldiers fired warning shots to disperse the protesters.

( Jowharwith AFP and REUTERS)

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