world news Text by: Alexandre Capron
Two videos showing parachutists jump from a plane in the skies above Burkina Faso started circulating online on September 30, with many claiming that the videos proved that foreign soldiers participated in the coup d’état, which ended Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba’s period in power. Turns out, however, that these videos show soldiers being trained as parachutists during a normal exercise.
In one of the two videos, the person filming describes the scene as a “worrying situation” and states that questions should be asked about what is happening.
Some of the posts featuring these videos have made strong allegations – claiming that the parachutists are clearly foreign soldiers arriving in Burkina Faso to “save Damiba” (the interim president deposed in the coup d’état on September 30).
This video was first published on Facebook on October 1, 2022.
In the second video, the person filming the parachutists says, in Mooré, one of the many languages spoken in Burkina Faso: “You, who are parachuting. Since yesterday, this plane has been dropping parachutists while people are dying in the Sahel. Go parachute there. It’s not true. They’ve been in Bobo since yesterday. We don’t want you here. You need to go into the bush to parachute.”
This video was originally posted on Facebook on September 30, 2022.
A scene filmed in Bobo-Dioulasso
“Bobo” is the nickname for Bobo-Dioulasso, the country’s economic capital, located in southwestern Burkina Faso. The two videos both mention the same town and both say the first parachutists were spotted on September 30. The videos did not appear online before this date.
If you read the comments left on these posts, there are quite a few people who say that the videos show parachutists completing training exercises in the skies above this city.
Comments under one of these video posts said that the video actually showed a ceremony for new officers. Observers To verify this infomation, the FRANCE24 Observers team contacted several residents of Bobo-Dioulasso: three of them said that they had seen parachutists over their town between September 26 and 30 but they said that they weren’t concerned about it at all.
That’s likely because Bobo is home to the Air Force training centre and the 25th regiment commando parachutists. Residents whom we spoke to said that it was fairly common to see military exercises carried out by parachutists in Bobo-Dioulasso. Some spoke about similar training exercises taking place last June.
Moreover, official sources confirmed that trainee parachutists were carrying out exercises on that day.
Our team spoke to two sources with the Burkina Faso police, both of whom requested to remain anonymous, and they stated that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the scenes shown in these videos. One said:
These are training exercises for parachutists are run by the Burkinabe army. This specific training program in parachute jumping has been going for about a month. There were some officials with the Burkina Faso gendarmerie in Bobo-Dioulasso for this event to celebrate a new class completing the program. The gendarmerie is always informed of these events along with the Chief of Defence [Editor’s note: the highest ranked officer in a nation’s armed forces].
Another source in the Bobo-Dioulasso gendarmerie says:
The men seen jumping in the video are officers studying at the Georges Namoano Academy (AMGN) in the town of Pô. They were taking part in a parachute training by the 25th parachute commando regiment. That was the last day of the training. On the morning of September 30, no one knew that a coup d’etat was about to take place and so it isn’t unusual that the training operations continued as normal.
A source in the Burkinabe army, who also requested to remain anonymous for security reasons, confirmed to our team that the videos in question did indeed show training exercises:
Those were jumps carried out by soldiers in training in order to get their parachutist’s certificate. A large number of them are in training with AMGN [Editor’s note: which means they are being trained by experienced parachutists.] To get their certification, they have to do six jumps. The last jump took place on September 30.
Another source in the Burkinabe army told our colleagues at FasoCheck, a Burkina Faso-based fact-checking website, that “the airplane used, a Hercule C-130, which belongs to the army of Niger, who lent it to Burkina as part of the military cooperation between these two countries.” The United States has also given two such planes to Niger. The most recent one was received in December 2021.
The FRANCE24 Observers team wasn’t able to determine the exact location where these two videos were filmed. Nor were we able to establish with certainty the date when the video was filmed.
However, because the people who filmed this video say that it was recorded in Bobo-Dioulasso and these videos first appeared online late in the morning of September 30, it seems to indicate that these videos do indeed show parachutists in training.