Protesters block French military convoy in West Africa nation of Burkina Faso
A convoy of French troops in Burkina Faso was stopped en route to Niger on Friday by a human barricade of protesters opposed to France's involvement in a regional conflict in West Africa.
Anger is rising in the former French colony over the inability of Burkinabe and Western forces to prevent rising violence by militants.
Hundreds of people massed on the road to block the French armoured vehicles' path in the city of Kaya. One held a handwritten sign that read: "Kaya says to the French army to go home."
The French vehicles eventually pulled off the road into an area protected by metal fencing, where they remained at the end of the afternoon.
Some of the protesters alleged that the French work with the militants.
"We asked them to open their vehicles so that we have an idea of the contents," one protester, Bassirou Ouedraogo, told Reuters. "We know what is inside: suspect items."
The convoy encountered similar protests in other towns, but had been able to continue until Kaya, witnesses said.
Anti-French sentiment is rampant in Mali and Burkina Faso. On the streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital, many say that France is actually trying to keep the country weak so the former colonial power can exploit secret gold and oil reserves in the Sahara.
Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga said last month that he has evidence that France has been training terrorist groups operating in the nation.
Maiga said French troops had created an enclave in Kidal, a town in the desert region of northern Mali, and handed it over to a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda.
Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.