Burkina Faso: Bloody end to Bobo Dioulasso mutiny

President Blaise Compaore. 1 April 2011 President Compaore sacked his security chiefs in April

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At least seven people including a young girl have been killed in an exchange of fire as pro-government forces quelled a mutiny in Burkina Faso.

The deaths came as elite forces engaged the rioting mutineers for the first time, encircling them at their military base in second city Bobo Dioulasso.

Their intervention comes after several days of looting and shooting by the mutineers in the commercial centre.

Disgruntled soldiers have been protesting violently for higher wages.

President Blaise Compaore responded to the protests, which began in February, by promising them a range of benefits, and sacked his security chiefs in April.

The mutiny, along with demonstrations by trade unions and civil society groups against the escalating cost of living, was seen as the biggest challenge to Mr Compaore's rule since he took power in a coup 24 years ago.

Market 'ransacked'

Residents say calm has now returned to the city.

Justice Minister Jerome Traore, quoted by Reuters news agency, said 57 soldiers had been arrested, adding that 25 civilians and eight soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

Pro-Compaore forces arrived in the south-western city Bobo Dioulasso after the government promised to take measures "to re-establish the authority of the state".

The mayor of Bobo Dioulasso, Salia Sanou, said part of the market had been ransacked by the mutineers.

The former colonial power, France, said it remained "vigilant" about the situation in Burkina Faso, where many of its nationals lived.

It said Mr Compaore's government should enter into dialogue with all parties to pave the way for reforms and to restore order.

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