Eight soldiers including a high-ranking commander have been detained over a “plot to destabilize” Burkina Faso’s institutions, military prosecutors and security sources said Tuesday. The military prosecutor’s office in the capital, Ouagadougou, said it had learned of an “allegation of a project to destabilize the institutions of the republic being planned by a group of soldiers.” The office learned of the plot on Saturday after “a member of the gang” denounced the plan, it said in a statement. An investigation has been launched and eight soldiers have been detained for questioning, the statement added. The West African nation’s government has come under sustained pressure over failures to stem the bloodshed of a brutal six-year jihadist insurgency that claimed about 2,000 lives and forced 1.4 million from their homes. Security sources told AFP that Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Zoungrana, the commander of western forces fighting jihadists in the country, was among those arrested. One of the security sources said that “suspicions of a plot to destabilize (the government) with ramifications abroad” hung over Zoungrana and several soldiers since protests in November. Hundreds took to the streets on November 27 to protest the state’s inability to stop the jihadist violence, with about 10 injured in clashes between demonstrators and police. Tensions had been raised after 57 people, including 53 police officers, were killed by a jihadi attack that overran a northern Inata base earlier in November. Two weeks before the Inata attack, the police based there had warned the authorities of their precarious situation, saying they were so short of food and were relying on poaching to eat. Last month in a bid to defuse public anger over the jihadi violence, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore accepted the government’s resignation. Lassina Zerbo, a former U.N. official who was installed as the prime minister of the new government, has called for “cohesion” in the face of the jihadi threat. Like its neighbors Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso has been caught in a spiral of violence since 2015, attributed to jihadi groups affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State militant group.
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