Burkina Faso government extends internet suspension amid protests

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FILE PHOTO: Civil organisations hold a protest following an attack on a gendarmerie post that killed 32 people, calling for Burkina Faso's President Roch Kabore to resign and for departure of French forces that patrol the country, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Anne MimaultREUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Civil organizations hold a protest following an attack on a gendarmerie post that killed 32 people, calling for Burkina Faso’s President Roch Kabore to resign and for the departure of French forces that patrol the country, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso November 16, 2021. /REUTERS

In a statement signed by government spokesperson Ousseni Tamboura, Burkina Faso’s government, extended its suspension of mobile internet service on Wednesday while offering conflicting reasons for why access was cut in the first place.

The internet cut was due to expire on Wednesday evening, but the government ordered it extended for another 96 hours.

Hours earlier, however, Tamboura provided a different explanation for the initial internet cut in comments to reporters.

“We thought that our nation needed silence in order to make sure we are able to bury our soldiers in a dignified manner. This restriction is linked strictly to that,” he said.

The authorities cut mobile internet on Saturday, which they later justified by citing a legal provision related to “the quality and security of networks and services and the respect of obligations of national defense and public security.”

The suspension came amid protests against the government and allied French forces after 49 military police officers and four civilians were killed on November 14 near the northern town of Inata by suspected militants.

Many of the military police officers slain in Inata were buried on Tuesday at a ceremony some of their family members and friends criticized as lacking dignity.

Opponents of President Roch Kabore have called for fresh protests on Saturday against the government’s inability to contain violence by militants from West African regional affiliates of al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Some of the public’s anger has been directed against former colonial power France, which has thousands of soldiers deployed in the region.

Hundreds of people in the city of Kaya massed over the weekend to block a convoy of French armored vehicles on its way to neighboring Niger. The convoy has still not been able to leave Burkina Faso.

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