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Burkina Faso Soldiers Protest, Fire Shots and Loot Shops in Bobo Dioulasso

About 200 Burkina Faso soldiers fired shots in the air at a military base in the West African nation’s second-biggest city, Bobo Dioulasso, as civil and army unrest in Africa’s biggest cotton grower extended into a fourth month.

“They fired all night,” said Aristide Ouedraogo, a resident of the city, which is 360 kilometers (223 miles) from Ouagadougou, the capital, by phone today. “Even this morning they are still firing but now it is in the military base.”

The soldiers’ actions at the base, which is the army’s main training facility, are “unacceptable,” Communications Minister Alain Edouard Traore told reporters today. “It is enough.”

Shops were looted and stayed closed today, Zakaria Ouedraogo, a storekeeper in the city, said by phone. It is the latest in a series of army protests over delayed pay and allowances, including a mutiny in the evening of April 14 that forced President Blaise Compaore to flee the capital, returning the next morning. He dismissed his government and fired the heads of the army and the police.

Rising Costs

Burkina Faso has been in turmoil since February when students protested over the death of a pupil in police custody. On April 30, about 3,000 Ouagadougou residents demonstrated against the rising cost of living and a month later, a group that represents about 8,000 cotton farmers pledged to boycott seed-planting for the 2011-12 harvest amid calls for higher prices for the fiber.

Companies including Avocet Mining Plc (AVM) and Iamgold Corp. (IMG) mine for gold in Burkina Faso and had their operations disrupted during labor disputes last month.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso ranks 161 out of 169 countries in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, a measure of development that includes education, income and life expectancy. Its gross domestic product per capita of $517 is about half of the African rate of $1,127, according to the World Bank.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Gongo in Ouagadougou via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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