Ambassadors from the U.S. and France in Burkina Faso tweeted that they were safe Sunday morning, as a hostage situation erupted at a hotel in the country’s capital Ouagadougou. “I am with my colleagues, we’re fine. We are not held hostage, we are free,” said French Ambassador Gilles Thibault. Demonstrators stormed the hotel where talks aimed at forging a pact to restore government rule in the country were being hosted, the Associated Press reported, citing local witnesses. The summit was called for after a military coup earlier this month sent the country’s president and prime minister to jail.
A violent clash outside the hotel between pro-military demonstrators and those who support the ousted leaders broke out, leading to a suspension of the talks, according to Reuters. That reportedly led to a conflict inside the hotel. “They invaded the hotel. It was violent,” a witness told Reuters. “They attacked ex-opposition members as they arrived. One had to be saved from the crowd by security forces.”
The witness told Reuters he recognized several of the demonstrators as party militants from the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), Burkina Faso’s former ruling party under ex-president Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in a popular uprising last year.
The hotel meeting came on the heels another seemingly successful summit between military leaders and intervention forces. Gen. Gilbert Diendere, the leader of the military coup, had reportedly entered a final round of discussions with Senegal’s President Macky Sall on Saturday with the goal of providing a pathway to return interim President Michel Kafando to power.
Diendere, Sall and Benin’s President Thomas Yayi Boni “shut themselves in Sall’s suite for decisive discussions on a plan for ending the crisis that could very likely lead to the return of President Kafando,” the Senegalese president’s office said in a statement cited by Reuters.
The country has been suspended from the African Union as tensions continue to rise. The arrest of Kafando and interim Prime Minister Isaac Zida on Wednesday, less than a month before national elections were due to be held, has largely divided the nation and led to a number of demonstrations and protests.
Disaffected citizens have in recent days taken to the streets of Ouagadougou and other cities, burning tires and erecting barricades to block soldiers loyal to Diendere, Reutersreported Saturday. At least 10 people have died and more than 100 others have been wounded in street clashes with the military since the coup began Sept. 16.