Authorities in Burkina Faso say they have mounted investigations into an alleged failed coup against the government.
Eight soldiers were reported to have been detained in connection to the alleged attempt to topple the administration of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
A statement from the prosecutor's office in the military on Tuesday said the detained soldiers were interrogated for an attempt to “destabilise the institutions of the Republic”.
The statement laid to rest hours of rumours sparked by internet disruptions for the most part of Monday, January 10. The internet monitoring group NetBlocks reported internet disruptions for 15 hours, followed by WhatsApp and Facebook restrictions.
This development comes seven years after the last coup in the West African country which has seen a fair share of insecurity, partly fuelled by about six years of jihadist insurgency, which spilled over from neighbouring Mali.
The last coup in Burkina Faso happened in 2015 when soldiers said to be loyal to former president Blaise Compaore detained leaders of an interim government. That transition government was put in place after the removal in 2014 of Compaore, who himself came to power in a military coup in 1987. Compaore was removed by a popular uprising.
It is unclear which group is associated with this latest alleged coup attempt.
One of those mentioned in the statement from the military’s prosecutor’s office is a former army officer known to be critical of the Burkinabe government’s policies, Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Emmanuel Zoungrana.
According to the statement, information was obtained from one of the alleged plotters who tipped off the authorities on Saturday.
Local media reports cited security sources saying that several other arrests were being done as investigations continue, both within the army and among civilians.
Lt Col Zoungrana, a towering figure in the Burkinabe army, used to be head of the 12th Commando Infantry Regiment. He is also renowned for his literary prowess, as an author of several books.
This latest development is likely to strengthen the resole of the West African bloc, Ecowas, to be tougher on military takeovers.
The 16-member bloc has been inundated with a threat of resurgence of coups in the last two years. The militaries in Mali and Guinea succeeded in forming governments against the will of the people.
Ecowas last Sunday imposed an economic blockade on Mali for failing to meet a deadline to transfer power to civilian rule. A similar fate awaits neighbouring Guinea.
Mali’s crisis was sparked by a jihadist insurgency which has since spread to the rest of the Sahel region, including Burkina Faso.
While the unrests in Mali led to two military coups in one year, in Burkina Faso they sparked massive streets protests, amid calls for the resignation of President Kabore. That situation too led to the suspension of internet services.
President Kabore, in office since 2015, was re-elected just last year for a second term. He has had to deal with recurrent attacks by the Islamist militants.
The security crisis in Burkina Faso has displaced about 1.4 million Burkinabés, according to the UN. It has also caused the closure of thousands of schools.
In November last year, protests rocked the country after terrorists massacred 49 soldiers. It was described as the deadliest loss the army had suffered since the conflict began.
Angry protesters took to the streets, demanding the resignation of the president, while others blocked a French military convoy.