Burkina Faso’s self-proclaimed leader says the man he overthrew in a coup a day ago is plotting a counterattack.
Colonel Ibrahim Traoré also accused the French of hiding Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiva in one of the bases, a charge denied by French diplomats.
In Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, gunfire is heard and helicopters fly overhead.
Witnesses said the army had blocked major roads in the city, closing shops that had previously opened.
The takeover, which took place on Friday, was announced on state television and marked the second time this year that the country’s military had seized power.
In both cases, the coup d’etat side said, “The national security is so serious that we had no choice but to intervene.”
Burkina Faso controls only 60% of its territory, according to experts, and Islamist violence is worsening. Since 2020, violence has displaced more than one million people in the country.
The African Union has demanded a return to constitutional order by July 2023 at the latest, and agrees with the regional group Ecowas that the downfall of leader Lieutenant Colonel Damiba is “unconstitutional”. .
Earlier, Ekobas said it was “inappropriate” for military rebels to seize power at a time when the country was moving towards democratization.
Surrounded by rebel soldiers in military uniforms and black masks, military chief Colonel Traoré announced on state television Friday night the dismissal of Lt. Damiva, the dissolution of the government and the suspension of the constitution.
Ibrahim Traoré said it was due to Lieutenant Colonel Damiba’s failure to deal with the Muslim rebellion.
“Our people have suffered enough and are still suffering,” he said.
Little is known about Colonel Traoré, a 34-year-old soldier who commanded a counter-jihadist unit called Cobra in the north.
His statement declared him interim leader of Burkina Faso. But Friday’s announcement included a promise that the “power of the nation” would finally come together to appoint a new civilian or military president and a new “interim charter.”
Lieutenant Colonel Damiba’s government overthrew the elected government in January for failing to deter Muslim attacks, and he himself told citizens that he had “more than enough to win this war.” talking.
But his government has also failed to quell jihadist violence. Analysts recently told the BBC that Islamist rebels were encroaching on the territory and that military leaders had tried unsuccessfully to put the forces under a single command system.
On Monday, 11 soldiers guarding a convoy of civilians were killed in Zibo, in the north of the country.
The African Union calls on the military to “immediately and completely refrain from any acts of violence or threats against civilians, civil liberties and human rights”.
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) earlier condemned the move, saying it “reaffirms its firm opposition to the seizure or maintenance of power through unconstitutional means”.
The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about developments in Burkina Faso and urged its citizens to limit movement within the country. France issued a similar warning to more than 4,000 citizens in its capital Ouagadougou.
A State Department spokesman said: “We call on all parties to regain their composure and restraint.”
In January, Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba sacked President Rosh Kaboré for failing to address rising violence by Islamic extremists.
But many citizens no longer feel safe, with protests taking place across the country this week.
On Friday afternoon, some demonstrators took to the streets of the capital to demand the dismissal of Lieutenant Colonel Damiba.
In 2015, Burkina Faso experienced a Muslim uprising that killed thousands and displaced about two million people.
Since its independence in 1960, it has suffered eight coups.