Violence erupted at the hotel in the capital of Burkina Faso where negotiations are being held to bring an end to a four-day-old military coup that overthrew a transitional civilian government.
Supporters of the military government stormed the hotel in Ouagadougou Sunday morning, and briefly clashed with opponents of the coup and its leader, General Gilbert Diendere.
However, it was a group of soldiers loyal to Diendere who jumped to the defense of some opposition leaders entering the hotel for talks.
The violence came on the day mediators working to end the political unrest in the West African nation were expected to announce a resolution to the crisis.
Most of the participants in the talks, including foreign ambassadors, had already arrived at the Laico Hotel when the incident occurred.
“I am with my colleagues. We are okay. We have not been taken hostage. We are free,” France’s ambassador to Burkina Faso Gilles Thibault said via his Twitter account.
The U.S. embassy in Ouagadougou also announced that Ambassador Tulinabo Mushingi was safe.
Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is negotiating on behalf of the regional bloc ECOWAS along with Senegal President Macky Sall, suggested to reporters Saturday that interim President Michel Kafando and his government would be reinstated.
Diendere seized power after members of the elite presidential guard stormed into a Cabinet meeting Wednesday and abducted Kafando and his ministers.
The coup triggered angry protests in the streets of Ouagadougou, escalating into bloody clashes between protesters and soldiers that left 10 people dead and more than 100 injured.
The violence had ebbed by Saturday with very few soldiers patrolling Ouagadougou.
Kafando’s government was installed after the ouster of President Blaise Compaore last October due to a popular uprising. The government had set elections for a new permanent government for October 11.
The coup was condemned by the United States, France – Burkina Faso’s former colonial ruler — the United Nations and the African Union, which suspended the country’s membership on Friday.