Burkina Faso traders riot over army looting

OUAGADOUGOU, April 16 (Reuters) – Hundreds of traders rioted and set fire to the headquarters of Burkina Faso’s ruling party on Saturday, protesting after mutinous soldiers looted their shops.

Merchants ransacked the National Assembly, the trade ministry and other public buildings in the capital of the West African state, a Reuters witness said.

“We are angry against the soldiers who have looted our stores, and also against the government that is doing nothing to stop the looting,” said Abdoulaye, who declined to give his second name.

“Among us are people who have lost everything … and do not even know yet whether they will be reimbursed. We’re fed up,” said the trader, who sells mobile phones.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore sacked his government, army chief and head of presidential security on Friday after soldiers took to the streets demanding the payment of promised bonuses. [ID:nLDE73E0QS]

Burkina Faso has been under Compaore’s tight rule since he took power in a 1987 coup and has so far avoided the conflicts and upheavals seen in many of its neighbours.

He won a new five-year term in office after taking 80 percent of the votes in November elections.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Ouagadougou last week against the high cost of living. The country ranks 161 out of 169 countries on the U.N.’s Human Development Index, a composite measure of life quality.

Compaore agreed in March to discuss grievances within the military after violent protests by soldiers over the arrest of a colleague. [ID:nLDE7R1Z2]

Shops, banks, petrol stations and other licensed premises have remain shut since Thursday night when the latest mutiny broke out.

http://af.reuters.com/article/burkinaFasoNews/idAFLDE73F06G20110416

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