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Coup attempt in Burkina Faso foiled, plotters arrested

Burkina Faso’s security and intelligence services foiled a coup attempt on Tuesday, according to the country’s military government.

It alleged that officers and others had planned to destabilise the country and throw it into chaos.

It has been almost a year since the interim President Capt Ibrahim Traoré seized power.

That was the country’s second coup of 2022, which took place amid a growing Islamist insurgency.

In a statement read out on television on Wednesday evening, the authorities said some arrests had been made and they were actively pursuing other suspects, without giving specific details. The military prosecutor has since said that four officers have been detained.

It said the alleged perpetrators “had the sinister intention of attacking the institutions of the republic and plunging the country into chaos”.

Hours earlier, Capt Traoré had issued a statement saying he was “determined to safely lead the transition [to democracy] despite adversity and the various maneuvers to stop our inexorable march towards assumed sovereignty”. He also thanked pro-junta supporters for “their vigilance”.

The junta has said elections will take place by July next year.

On Tuesday, rumours of a brewing mutiny led hundreds of people to take to the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, in support of the junta.

On the same day, the authorities suspended the French-language news magazine Jeune Afrique, accusing it of publishing articles discrediting the armed forces.

The widespread jihadist insurgency, which spilled over from neighbouring Mali in 2015, has complicated plans to hand over power to civilians by next year.

About 6,000 people have been killed this year alone in jihadist attacks, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (Acled).

Since taking power, Capt Traoré has moved to cut links to France, the former colonial power.

He ordered French forces based in the country to help tackle the Islamist insurgency to leave, and launched mass recruitment drives to reinforce the security forces.

Earlier this month, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali – three neighboring countries all threatened by jihadist forces and where the army has seized power in the past year – established a defence pact in a bid to support each other against any armed rebellion or external aggression.