France asks Burkina to help solve military convoy problems

PARIS: France has asked the president of Burkina Faso to intervene after a convoy of French troops bound for Niger was stopped Friday by protesters opposing the former colonial ruler’s role in a regional conflict with Islamist militants.

Anger is mounting in the West African country over the inability of both local and international forces to stop attacks by the jihadists. State security forces suffered their worst loss in years last week when gunmen killed 49 military police officers and four civilians.

Hundreds of people gathered on the road in the town of Kaya on Friday to block the path of French armored vehicles, a Reuters reporter there said. A protester held a sign that read: “Kaya tells the French army to go home.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told LCI television on Sunday that “manipulators” were fueling anti-French sentiment, but he hoped the Burkinabe authorities would step in to find a solution.

“We have made it clear to President (Roch) Kabore that we want him to resolve the situation in Kaya and I believe it will be resolved,” Le Drian said. “It’s a little tense for internal reasons, but also externally because there are influencers leading an information war.”

The French convoy was forced to travel about 70 km south to a camp just north of the capital Ouagadougou on Sunday, two security sources told Reuters. It was not clear whether it planned to go to Niger via a different route.

Police used tear gas on Sunday to disperse protesters in Kaya, one of the sources said.

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