Burkina Faso soldiers freed from prison after protests
Ouagadougou (AFP) March 24, 2011
Five Burkinabe soldiers sentenced to prison over a sex scandal were released Thursday after soldiers protested their punishment, shooting into the air and looting stores, a military source said.
"Taking into account the situation, the prisoners were released until solutions can be found by the command in collaboration with judicial authorities," a source from the army chief of staff told AFP.
On Tuesday night, Burkinabe soldiers left their barracks, firing gunshots into the air and looting shops in a five hour protest against the conviction of their colleagues.
Four of the soldiers were sentenced to 15 months and prison and the other to 18 months.
President Blaise Compaore told journalists Thursday he regretted the "unfortunate" events.
"We are a democracy, in a free country, which means happy or unhappy, we can protest. But, we must always be ready for dialogue, to have faith in our country's justice system and respect public and private property."
He said recent civilian protests, and now military, should be stopped for the sake of "social cohesion".
Since February Burkina Faso has been shaken by violent youth movements after four students were shot dead in protests against the death of a fellow student reported as being due to meningitis, but believed by friends and family to have been due to police brutality.
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