- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thousands of anti-government protesters set fire to Burkina Faso’s parliament in the capital Ouagadougou in West Africa and are reportedly making their way toward President Blaise Compaore’s palace, forcing the government to at least temporarily scrap plans to extend the president’s 27-year rule.

At least five people have been killed as military fired live bullets at protesters storming parliament, BBC reported. Correspondents say the city hall and ruling party headquarters are also in flames.

Hundreds of people broke through a heavy security cordon and stormed the National Assembly building, ransacking offices and setting fire to cars. The national television headquarters was ransacked and forced off the air. The main airport has also been closed, Al Jazeera reported.

A BBC correspondent reported seeing two homes belonging to MPs on fire and smoke coming out of another two. One of the city’s main hotels, Hotel Azalai, is also on fire.

A massive crowd is marching towards the presidential palace, which is about three miles away from parliament, BBC reported.

Mr. Compaore’s whereabouts are unknown, but he has asked citizens for “calm and serenity” via Twitter.

The president, an ally of the U.S. and France, first took power in a coup in 1987, and has won four disputed elections since then. MPs were forced to suspended a vote Thursday on amending the constitution to allow him to stand for re-election next year.

Protesters demand Mr. Compaore not run for re-election.

“October 30 is Burkina Faso’s Black Spring, like the Arab Spring,” opposition activist Emile Pargui Pare told the Agence France-Presse.

Both France and the European Union have called on Mr. Compaore to scrap the proposed constitutional amendment. The U.S. has also raised concern about the plan to extend his rule, BBC reported.

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