More than a dozen mutinous soldiers have declared on state television that a military junta has seized control of Burkina Faso after detaining the democratically elected president following a day of gunbattles in the capital of the West African country.
The military coup in a nation that was once a bastion of stability was the third of its kind in the region in the last 18 months, creating upheaval in some of the countries hardest hit by Islamic extremist attacks.
Captain Sidsore Kaber Ouedraogo on Monday said the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration "has decided to assume its responsibilities before history".
The soldiers put an end to President Roch Marc Christian Kabore's presidency because of the deteriorating security situation and the president's inability to manage the crisis, he said.
It was not immediately known where Kabore was, and the junta spokesman said only that the coup had taken place "without any physical violence against those arrested, who are being held in a safe place, with respect for their dignity".
A soldier in the mutiny, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of situation, told The Associated Press that Kabore had submitted his resignation.
The new military regime said it had suspended Burkina Faso's constitution and dissolved the National Assembly. The country's borders were closed, and a curfew was in effect from 9pm to 5am.
Ouedraogo said that the country's new leaders would work to establish a calendar "acceptable to everyone" for holding new elections without giving further details.
After the televised announcement, crowds took to the streets, cheering and honking car horns in support of the takeover. People hoped the coup would ease the devastation they have endured since jihadist violence spread across the country.
The communique read aloud on state broadcaster RTB was signed by the country's apparent new military leader, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba. He sat beside the spokesman without addressing the camera during the announcement.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on coup leaders to lay down their arms and that the military takeover was part of "an epidemic of coups around the world and in that region".
The US State Department in a statement expressed deep concern about the dissolution of the government, suspension of the constitution and the detention of government leaders.
"We condemn these acts and call on those responsible to de-escalate the situation, prevent harm to President Kabore and any other members of his government in detention, and return to civilian-led government and constitutional order," spokesman Ned Price said.
In a statement, Kabore's political party accused the mutinous soldiers of trying to assassinate the president and another government minister and said the presidential palace in Ouagadougou remained surrounded by "heavily armed and hooded men".
Gunfire erupted early on Sunday when soldiers took control of a major military barracks in the capital. In response, civilians rallied in a show of support for the rebellion but were dispersed by security forces firing tear gas.
On Monday, groups of people celebrated again in the streets of the capital after reports of Kabore's capture.
Kabore was elected in 2015 after the popular uprising that ousted Compaore. He was re-elected in November 2020, but frustration has been growing at his inability to stem the jihadist violence.
Attacks linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have killed thousands and displaced more than an estimated 1.5 million people.
The military has suffered losses since the extremist violence began in 2016. In December, more than 50 security forces were killed and nine more died in November.
Mutinous soldiers told the AP that the government was out of touch with troops. Among their demands are more forces in the battle against extremists and better care for the wounded and the families of the dead.
About 100 military members have planned the takeover since August, according to one of the mutinous soldiers.
Australian Associated Press
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