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Burkina army sacks 566 soldiers over mutiny
by Staff Writers
Ouagadougou (AFP) July 14, 2011

Burkina Faso's military has discharged 566 soldiers following a wave of mutinees that swept across the country earlier this year, army chief of staff Nabere Honore Traore said Thursday.

During a late June meeting on insubordination in the army, "the military hierarchy proposed the termination of the contracts of 566 soldiers", Traore told journalists, explaining that more troops could still be sacked.

The army chief said several hundred of those already fired will face criminal charges for rebellion, desertion and looting, among other offences.

Protests first broke out in Burkina Faso in February over high food prices, unemployment, rising costs and looting by troops.

The unrest intensified when soldiers and paramilitary police joined the unrest in April, going on the rampage in several towns.

Residents in some affected areas, furious over the state's inability to control its troops, ransacked several government buildings.

The unrest caused more than seven million euro (10 million dollars) in damage, according to Traore.

By cracking down on wayward troops Burkina Faso is sending "a strong signal to the international community" about its desire to have a professional and disciplined army, Traore said.

Traore was tipped as army chief in April as part of a larger overhaul of the security services launched by Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore in response to the unprecedented unrest.

Compaore, in power since 1987, also fired army and police chiefs in April and formed a new government, naming himself defence minister.

Hundreds of soldiers were arrested as the government tried to contain and stamp out the mutinees.

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