A Sense of (In)Security

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Shootings at the presidential palace and the national broadcaster’s headquarters in the capital, Ouagadougou, are intensifying concerns about a potential mutiny in Burkina Faso amid a deteriorating security situation nearly two years after a military coup, Al Jazeera reported.

These incidents reflect mounting challenges to junta leader Capt. Ibrahim Traore, who took power in a 2022 coup with promises to restore security and expedite a transition to democracy, the news outlet wrote.

On June 11, the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) – an al-Qaeda affiliate – launched an attack on an army base near the Niger border, resulting in the deaths of 107 soldiers.

This attack – one of the worst military losses since Islamist conflict spread from neighboring Mali in 2015 – has heightened dissatisfaction within the army.

The next day, gunfire erupted at the Radio Télévision du Burkina (RTB) headquarters, close to the presidential palace. Authorities initially remained silent but later attributed the incident to friendly fire.

That incident came a month after a shooting at the presidential palace, where a lone attacker was reportedly subdued.

Meanwhile, Traore visited the RTB premises this week to reassure the station’s staff and dispel any rumors of instability in the country. He accused some media outlets of spreading false information about the current situation and rumors that he had gone into hiding, Africanews added.

But analysts warned that these incidents could precede significant internal military realignments and possible rebellion.

Earlier this month, Traore announced a five-year extension of the transitional period, citing continued insecurity, especially in the northeast where armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State control nearly half the country. Critics accused Traore of exploiting the security crisis to prolong his grip on power.

There are also fears that the shootings could spark stronger reactions from Traore: Since the coup, the military junta has become more repressive, with arrests increasing.

Traore has also distanced Burkina Faso from France, instead aligning with Russia. Recent reports suggested that fighters from the Kremlin-linked Wagner mercenary group have been deployed in the country.

Meanwhile, the conflict has displaced more than 10 percent of the population and shuttered more than 5,000 schools.

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