OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Angry protesters attacked the French Embassy in Burkina Faso's capital Saturday after supporters of the West African nation's new coup leader accused France of harbouring the ousted interim president, a charge French authorities vehemently denied.
A group of soldiers appearing on state television late Friday had announced that Lieutenant Colonel Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba had been overthrown less than nine months after he'd mounted a coup himself in Burkina Faso.
While his whereabouts remained unknown late Saturday, a new statement attributed to Damiba was posted on the Burkina Faso presidency's Facebook page directed at the newly declared leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore.
“I call on Captain Traoré and company to come to their senses to avoid a fratricidal war that Burkina Faso does not need,” said the statement attributed to Damiba, who unlike other ousted West African leaders have yet to tender a resignation.
Earlier Saturday, comments by a junta spokesman had set into motion an outburst of anger in Ouagadougou, the capital.
“Damiba has tried to retreat to the Kamboinsin French military base to prepare a counteroffensive in order to sow divide amongst our defence and security forces,” said Lieutenant Jean Baptiste Kabre, reading a statement on behalf of the new junta leadership.
Video on social media showed residents with lit torches outside the perimeter of the French embassy and other images showed part of the compound ablaze.
In Burkina Faso's second-largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, angry crowds also vandalised the French institute.
France has denied any role in the events unfolding in its former colony, and warned its citizens to stay at home amid a “confusing” situation in Ouagadougou.