Thousands of protesters gathered in Ouagadougou on Saturday, September 29, calling for a stronger response to terrorism in Burkina Faso. It was the first major protest against President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who was elected in 2015 and the first president to not have ties to the military since 1966. The demonstrators are particularly concerned with the ongoing terrorist threat and also protested against unemployment, cost of living, and corruption. Continued political discontent and further protests are possible in the coming weeks and months.
There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Burkina Faso, with officials reporting 117 deaths from terrorist attacks attributed to Ansaru al-Islam and other groups affiliated with Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the past three years. Most incidents occur in the northern Sahel region along with eastern portions of the country, though groups have been known to target Ouagadougou, including a 2016 assault on a hotel popular with Westerners that resulted in 30 deaths.
President Kaboré was elected in 2015 in the first elections since the ouster of long-time president Blaise Compaoré. He is the first president not to have affiliations with the military since 1966.
Individuals in Burkina Faso are advised to monitor the situation and avoid any public gatherings as a precaution. Additionally, several Western governments advise against travel to areas of the northern Sahel region in Burkina Faso, particularly areas within 40 km (25 mi) of the Malian border, as well as in the southeastern Tapoa province, near the Niger border. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to traveling to such areas.
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