Burkina Faso: Ilyushin II-76’s mysterious arrival in the middle of a coup

By Benjamin Roger

Posted on Thursday, 20 October 2022 15:37
People attend the beginning of the two days of national talks to adopt a transitional charter and designate an interim president to lead the country will take place, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso October 14, 2022. REUTERS/Vincent Bado

Two transport planes landed in Ouagadougou on 30 September and 1 October, in the midst of Captain Traoré's putsch, then a third a few days later in Bobo-Dioulasso, and a fourth this week. On board were intriguing crates and helicopters.

The case is intriguing. On 30 September, a few hours after Captain Ibrahim Traoré and his men launched a coup, an Ilyushin II-76, a Russian-made transport plane, landed on the tarmac at Ouagadougou airport. According to our information, it had arrived from Baku, Azerbaijan.

Mysterious crates and helicopters

On the spot, soldiers unloaded several pallets and crates. It is difficult to know exactly what they contained but, according to several security sources, there is little doubt that there were individual weapons – notably AK-47 machine guns – and ammunition.

The next day, 1 October, the same thing happened again. Another Ilyushin II-76 landed in Ouagadougou, even though the putschists had officially closed the air and land borders at midnight. Once again, soldiers unloaded boxes. A few days later, on 5 October, another Ilyushin II-76 entered Burkina Faso’s airspace, which had been officially reopened 72 hours earlier. This time, the aircraft landed at Bobo-Dioulasso airport.

Damiba’s orders

On 13 October, another transport plane – probably another Ilyushin II 76 – landed in Ouagadougou and parked at the air base, which adjoins the airport. This time, the load was much more substantial: two helicopters, a Mi-8 and a Mi-35. More than 20 people accompanied them.

The fact that the first deliveries took place during the first two days of the coup inevitably raises questions. But it could just be a coincidence. According to security sources, such contracts can hardly be settled in just a few days. These orders for arms and helicopters were placed by the old authorities, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, and validated by the new ones, Captain Ibrahim Traoré and his men, once the coup had taken place.

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