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Burkina Faso: Shots heard near presidential palace

Shots were heard early Friday around Burkina Faso’s presidential palace and the headquarters of its military junta, which seized power in a coup last January, witnesses told AFP.

Several main roads in the capital Ouagadougou were blocked by troops and state television was cut, broadcasting a blank screen saying: “no video signal”, AFP journalists said.

“I heard heavy detonations around 4:30 am (0430 GMT) and now the roads around my home have been sealed off by military vehicles,” a resident who lives close to the presidential palace told AFP.

Troops were stationed on the main crossroads of the city, especially in the Ouaga 2000 neighbourhood that is home to the presidential and military junta headquarters, but also outside the headquarters of state television, an AFP journalist said.

Burkina Faso is currently ruled by a junta under Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

He took power in a January coup, ousting elected leader Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who failed to stem a jihadist insurgency. But the security situation has not improved.

On Monday, suspected jihadists attacked a convoy in the north of the country. The government said 11 soldiers died and around 50 civilians were missing.

More than 40 percent of the country, a former French colony, is outside government control.

Thousands have died and about two million have been displaced by the fighting since 2015 when the insurgency spread into Burkina Faso.

Much of the Sahel region is battling the insurgency, which also spread to Niger. In recent years, the violence has begun to spill over into coastal states Ivory Coast and Togo.

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