A general close to ousted strongman Blaise Compaore took the lead in a Burkina Faso coup and promised elections would be held "soon", as the death toll from gunshots fired at protesters rose to three.
The latest unrest yesterday hit the landlocked west African nation just weeks ahead of presidential and legislative elections slated for October 11 -- the country's first since veteran leader Compaore was forced out last year.
The power grab began on Wednesday when soldiers from the elite presidential guard (RSP) burst into a cabinet meeting and seized interim President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida.
The move plunged the country into fresh uncertainty but coup leader General Gilbert Diendere -- Compaore's former chief-of-staff -- insisted he still wanted elections to take place.
"Our wish is to reorganise ourselves and to move towards elections soon," General Gilbert Diendere said hours after seizing power, while refusing to give a date for a vote.
"But we plan to discuss all that with the concerned actors, notably the political parties and civil society organisations to establish a timetable that allows us to move towards presidential and parliamentary elections," he added.
Wednesday's coup triggered immediate street protests outside the presidential palace where the leaders were being held, with presidential guard officers firing shots to disperse demonstrators.
Doctors at the main Ouagadougou hospital said three people had died from gunshot wounds since Wednesday, while at least 60 others were admitted for various injuries.
Yesterday, presidential guard officers positioned their armoured vehicles in front of the presidential palace and more shooting was heard around the complex.
But Revolution Square -- the epicentre of last year's protests against Compaore -- was empty apart from military patrols, and the streets of the capital were mostly deserted.
After dissolving the country's political institutions, the guards immediately announced the establishment of a "National Democratic Council" which they said would end "the deviant regime of transition" and create a government which would organise "inclusive" elections.
Diendere was appointed head of the council, which announced a night-time curfew with land and air borders closed until further notice.
He had said the president and the premier would "be released at the right time".