French people

French military convoy leaves Burkina Faso after blockade of protesters


French President Emmanuel Macron greets Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré before a meeting on security in the Sahel region at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, November 12, 2021. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / File Photo

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PARIS, November 26 (Reuters) – A French military convoy stranded in Burkina Faso was entering Niger on Friday, the French army said, a week after protesters opposed to the former colonial leader’s military presence interrupted its passage.

Hundreds of protesters in the town of Kaya last week surrounded logistics trucks and armored vehicles as they crossed Burkina Faso on their way to Niger and then Mali.

The convoy, which had already encountered protests in two other towns along the route, then retreated to a camp just north of the capital Ouagadougou.

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“The convoy resumed its course last night and is now arriving at the Nigerien border. Everything is going well,” French army spokesman Colonel Pascal Ianni told Reuters.

The people of this West African country are frustrated by local and international troops who have failed to contain a growing Islamist insurgency. France has deployed thousands of troops to the Sahel region of West Africa, where they fight militants linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda.

State security forces suffered their biggest loss in years earlier this month when militants from an Al Qaeda affiliate killed 49 military police and four civilians.

Three more people died in a similar attack on Wednesday and hundreds of civilians were killed during the year.

Faced with growing criticism and calls from the opposition for new demonstrations on Saturday, President Roch Kaboré promised in a televised address Thursday evening to tackle the “unacceptable dysfunctions” of the army. Read more

Schools have been closed across the country in anticipation of possible unrest. Mobile internet has also been cut since last Saturday under a legal provision related to national defense and public security.

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Reporting by John Irish Writing by Cooper Inveen Editing by Aaron Ross, William Maclean

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