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Burkina Faso expels reporters from French newspapers

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture shows an aerial view of the building of French daily evening newspaper Le Monde in Paris, France. (By Reuters)

Foreign reporters working for France's 'Le Monde' and 'Libération' dailies have been expelled from Burkina Faso as part of measures the west African country has taken against French media.

French newspaper Le Monde reported the expulsion on Sunday, saying Burkina had told French correspondents to leave.

"Our correspondent in Burkina Faso, Sophie Douce, has been expelled from the country... at the same time as her colleague from Libération, Agnes Faivre," Le Monde announced, condemning the move as "arbitrary" and "unacceptable".

"Libération" also said it "vigorously protests these absolutely unjustified expulsions" and suggested they were linked to an investigation it published earlier in the week.

"The March 27 publication of a Libération investigation into the circumstances in which a video was filmed showing children and adolescents being executed in a military barracks by at least one soldier evidently strongly displeased the junta in power in Burkina Faso," the paper said.

The Burkina government spokesman said after the piece was published that "the government strongly condemns these manipulations disguised as journalism to tarnish the image of the country".

The two reporters arrived in Paris early on Sunday after being expelled late on Saturday, Le Monde added.

Also on Monday, Burkina's ruling junta suspended all broadcasts by the France 24 news channel, after it interviewed the head of Al-Qaeda North Africa.

In December, the Burkina junta suspended Radio France Internationale (RFI), which belongs to the same France Medias Monde group as France 24, accusing the radio station of airing a "message of intimidation" attributed to a "terrorist chief".

Burkina Faso, which scrapped a 1961 agreement on military assistance with France only weeks after it told the French ambassador and troops to quit the country, is battling extremist militants.

Bilateral ties between Burkina Faso and its former colonizer France have been strained following two military coups last year fueled in part by the failure of the government in protecting civilians from terrorist organizations in the Sahel region.

The decade-long militancy has caused significant instability not only in Burkina Faso, but also in neighboring Niger and Mali, the original epicenter of the insurgents.

Both France 24 and RFI, which cover African affairs and broadcast news in former French colonies in Africa, referred to as Françafrique, have been also suspended in Mali.

The militancy has taken on even greater proportions with the spillover effects of the crisis reaching neighboring West African littoral states such as Ivory Coast and Benin.

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