Between three and 10 people have been killed in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou as they were protesting after the presidential guard ousted the interim president in a coup. Acting leader Michel Kafando, prime minister Yacouba Isaac Zida and two other ministers were detained by guards loyal to the previous leader, Blaise Compaore, driven out in 2014 as he was seeking to amend the constitution to run in October 2015's presidential election.
General Gilbert Diendere, a former ally of Compaore, has been appointed as president of the newly declared National Democratic Council. The coup, which came weeks before presidential election, enraged dozens of people who took to the streets calling for the release of the hostages.
Members of the presidential guard fired shots to disperse the protesting crowd and used batons to hit stone-throwing protesters, according to Reuters, which said the number of people killed was three. However, the BBC reported that at least 10 people died.
During a phone interview with AP, Diendere confirmed that the election will take place, but not on the scheduled date. "Today it seems to me that the 11 October date is too soon to hold the election," he said. "It's not at our level to speak of Compaore's return. We want to stabilize the country and hold elections."
According to some analysts, the coup occurred in retaliation to the declaration of a commission, which suggested the disbanding of the presidential guard − the Régiment de Sécurité Présidentielle (RSP) − amid allegations members had fired on unarmed protesters during 2014 riots. Presidential guard also said it was unhappy with the ban on candidates who were close to Compaore in the October election.
The UN, African Union (AU), US and France condemned the coup while Taiwan said it will not affect diplomatic ties with the west African nation. Meanwhile, a Burkina Faso's grass-roots movement, Le Balai Citoyen, called for popular resistance. The group said in a statement on its Facebook page: "The Nation of Burkina Faso is in danger. We demand the immediate release of the head of the state, the prime minister and ministers arrested. We expect a strong commitment and without hesitation of political forces and the whole of civil society.
"We demand that the regular army, the defence forces and security take their historic responsibilities in the face of this armed aggression against the people of Burkina Faso and its institutions."
Speaking to IBTimes UK, David Otto, CEO of UK-based TGS Intelligence Consultants, warned that the situation might escalate. He said: "Burkina Faso has a history of coups. The reason why the commission wanted to ban the presidential guard was because the guard was very loyal to Compaore and the interim government was trying to ensure that anyone with links to Compaore should not contest. This might have triggered the coup.
"Diendere was the formal chief of staff during the Compaore regime and he has very good links with the presidential guard," Otto continued. "Compaore – who is currently on the Ivory Coast – has very powerful links in Africa, with the French regime, the American regime.
"The interim president and prime minister are under house arrest and the situation is likely to escalate as citizens will not allow anyone who is loyal to Compaore to take over power."