PARIS, Nov 21 (Reuters) – France has asked the president of Burkina Faso to intervene after a convoy of French troops in the Sahel country was stopped en route to Niger on Friday by a human barricade of protesters opposed to Paris’ role in a regional conflict with jihadists.
Anger is rising in the former French colony over the inability of Burkinabe and international forces to prevent rising violence by Islamist militants. State security forces suffered their heaviest loss in years on Nov. 14 when gunmen killed 49 military police officers and four civilians.
Speaking to LCI television, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that “manipulators” were stoking anti-French sentiment, but he hoped the Burkinabe authorities would act to find a solution.
“We’ve made it clear to President (Roch) Kabore that we’d like him to resolve the situation in Kaya and I think it will be resolved,” Le Drian said.
“It’s a little tense because of internal reasons, but also external because there are influencers who are leading an information war.”
Hundreds of people have massed on the road to block the path of French armoured vehicles in the city of Kaya, according to a Reuters reporter there. One held a handwritten sign that read: “Kaya says to the French army to go home.”
Reporting by John Irish and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Kirsten Donovan