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Burkina Faso's interim president released after coup

By Ed Adamczyk
Government forces loyal to former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, seen here at the United Nations in 2013, overthrew the interim government of Michel Kafando this week. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Government forces loyal to former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, seen here at the United Nations in 2013, overthrew the interim government of Michel Kafando this week. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Military leaders said they released Burkina Faso Interim President Michel Kafando on Friday after a coup d'etat.

A military junta loyal to former President Blaise Compaore arrested Kafando and other government officials on Wednesday. Military leaders took over the government of the poverty-stricken, landlocked West African country.

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Kafando was chosen as interim leader last year after Compoare was ousted in a popular revolt, and his government had scheduled new elections for Oct. 11.

The presidential guard stormed a Cabinet meeting in the capital, Ouagadougou, Wednesday, arresting Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida and Cabinet members. Zida remains under house arrest.

The installation of a military junta was condemned by the United States, the African Union and France; the country, formerly known as Upper Volta, was a French colony until 1958.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday said the United States "is deeply concerned" about the coup."

"We call for the immediate release of all officials that are being held there," he said. "The United States strongly condemns any attempt to seize power through extra-constitutional means, or resolve internal political disagreements using force."

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Protesters, some of whom have been arrested, occupied the streets of Ouagadougou since Wednesday, erecting blockades and burning tires. At least three were killed and 60 injured after the presidential guard fired shots at demonstrators.

Demonstrators have also gathered at the capital's airport, awaiting a delegation from the regional bloc Economic Community of West African States, which pledged to come to Burkina Faso to mediate the crisis and help free additional government officials arrested.

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