OUAGADOUGU – The government of Burkina Faso, faced with growing public discontent over repeated killings by Islamist terrorists, extended its suspension on mobile internet on Wednesday, offering conflicting reasons why access was cut in the first place.
Authorities turned off mobile internet on Saturday, which they later acquitted, citing legal provision regarding “the quality and security of networks and services, and compliance with national defense and public safety commitments.”
The suspension comes amid protests against the government and allied French forces after 49 military police officers and four civilians were killed on November 14 near the northern city of Inata by suspected jihadists.
The internet interruption was supposed to end on Wednesday night, but the government ordered an extension for another 96 hours, citing the same legal provision in a statement signed by a government spokesman for Usseni Tambour.
However, a few hours earlier, Tambura had provided a different explanation for the initial reduction in comments to online reporters.
“We thought that our people needed silence … in order to be sure that we could bury our soldiers with dignity. This limitation is strictly related to this, ”he said.
Many of the military police officers killed in Inat were buried on Tuesday in a ceremony criticized by some of their families and friends as unworthy.
Opponents of President Roh Kabora have called for new protests on Saturday against the government’s failure to contain terrorist violence from the West African regional affiliates of al-Qaeda and the ISIS terrorist group.
Some of the public outrage was directed against the former colonial power of France, which has thousands of soldiers stationed in the region.
Hundreds of people in the city of Kaya gathered over the weekend to block a convoy of French armored vehicles heading for neighboring Niger. The column has not yet been able to leave Burkina Faso.