A burst of gunfire was heard in the early hours of Tuesday in the centre of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, near the air base, an AFP journalist observed.
The gunfire began to be heard at around 00:45 (local time and GMT) in the heart of the Burkinabe capital, before ceasing around 40 minutes later.
“It was an unfortunate incident limited to the air base”, a security source told AFP, without giving any further details, claiming that “the situation is under control”.
Traffic was temporarily halted, but resumed timidly after the shooting, as the AFP journalist observed.
The heavy gunfire came 10 months after a coup d’état, the second in less than a year in a country plagued by jihadist violence.
They also came six days after a putsch in neighbouring Niger that toppled elected president Mohamed Bazoum.
On 30 September 2022, a coup d’état brought Captain Ibrahim Traoré to power in Ouagadougou, overthrowing Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, who had carried out the first putsch and overthrew the elected President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré on 24 January of the same year.
With each putsch, the inability to fight effectively against jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, which have been striking Burkina Faso with increasing intensity since 2015, had been highlighted.
Jihadist violence has killed more than 16,000 civilians and soldiers in eight years, according to the latest estimates of the international NGO Armed Conflict Location Action (Acled), which records the victims of conflicts around the world, including more than 5,000 since the beginning of 2023.
The violence has also led to the displacement of some two million people.
– Solidarity between coup plotters –
The latest coup d’état on 26 July in Niger was the third since those of 2020, 2021 and 2022 in Mali and Burkina Faso, in a Sahel region hit by poverty and jihadist violence.
Mali and Burkina Faso have obtained the departure of French troops from their soil and have drawn closer to other partners, in particular Russia, which is taking advantage of France’s disengagement and stirring up resentment among a section of the population against the former colonial power in the region.
In a statement published on Monday evening, the governments of Burkina Faso and Mali expressed their solidarity with the putschists in neighbouring Niger, led by General Abdourahamane Tiani.
In particular, they warned that “any military intervention against Niger would be considered as a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali”.
This warning came the day after West African leaders, backed by their Western partners, including France, threatened to use “force”. France has been accused by the military forces that have taken power in Niger of wanting to “intervene militarily”, but Paris has denied this.