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

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

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

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

One of the demonstrators, Fabrice Sawadogo, 28, declared that “after seven years of failure to prevent terrorist attacks … it is time to ask the government to leave”.

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

Security agents threw tear gas canisters to disperse around 100 demonstrators who were trying to march towards downtown Ouagadougou.

After retreating to the side streets, the protesters began erecting barricades and burning tires and trash cans.

The furious public reaction to the latest attacks angered authorities, who cut off mobile internet access a week ago and refused to allow Saturday’s protest.

An alliance of three groups called the Coalition of November 27 called on Saturday the population to take to the streets “in a peaceful atmosphere to denounce the growing insecurity and demand the departure” of Kaboré.

But other civil society groups have distanced themselves from the protests, refusing, according to them, “to be complicit with those who want to plunge the country into chaos”.

The security situation is deteriorating

Militant groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group have raged in the landlocked West African country since 2015, killing around 2,000 people and driving 1.4 million from their homes.

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

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

Since then, the country has seen scattered protests.

French military convoy reaches Niger

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

The supply convoy of several dozen vehicles arrived in Africa in Côte d’Ivoire last week and had to pass through Burkina Faso and Niger before arriving in central Mali.

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

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

The next day, four people were shot and wounded in Kaya, in still unclear circumstances: French and Burkinabé soldiers fired warning shots to disperse the demonstrators.

(AXADLETM with AFP and REUTERS)

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