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Burkina Faso expels 2 French journalists, no reason given

By SAM MEDNICK Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal Burkina Faso’s military junta has expelled two journalists working for French media without reason, said the outlets. Sophie Douce, a French correspondent for Le Monde, and Agnes Faivre, correspondent for Liberation, were given 24 hours to leave the West African country with no explanation, said articles by both newspapers on Sunday.

The correspondents were each questioned separately about their work by state security on Friday. Faivre was ordered to leave that evening and Douce the following day, they both arrived in Paris Sunday.

“Le Monde condemns in the strongest terms this arbitrary decision which forced the two journalists to leave Ouagadougou in less than 24 hours,” said Jerome Fenoglio, director of Le Monde.

“These two expulsions mark another major setback for the freedom to inform about the situation in Burkina Faso,” he said. Jihadi fighters linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have been waging a violent insurgency in Burkina Faso for seven years, that’s killed thousands and displaced nearly 2 million people.

The violence has destabilized and divided the once peaceful country in the Sahel region leading to two coups last year. Since the second coup when Capt. Ibrahim Traore seized power in September, civic freedoms have shrunk, say rights groups and residents.

The expulsions come less than a week after the junta suspended French broadcaster, France 24, for interviewing a top jihadi rebel and months after the government suspended French broadcaster Radio France Internationale for having relayed an “intimidation message” attributed to a “terrorist,” according to a statement from the junta.

In March, Mathieu Pellerin, the Sahel consultant for the International Crisis Group, was arrested and detained for two days by authorities and questioned about his work, said Murithi Mutiga, the group’s Africa program director. In December the government expelled the top U.N. official in the country and weeks later ordered France to recall its ambassador.

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