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Burkina Demonstrators Demand Explanation of Journalist's Death

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, on Thursday to demand an explanation for the killing three years ago of journalist Norbert Zongo.

On December 13, 1998, the charred bodies of Norbert Zongo, editor of the newspaper L'Independent and three other people were found in a car, 100 kilometers outside Ouagadougou. The demonstrators were marching to protest the fact that, three years later, no one knows why they were murdered. It is the latest in a long wave of protests touched off by the killings.

Mr. Zongo's death came after his newspaper began investigating the murder of a driver who had worked for the brother of President Blaise Compaore.

Demonstrators and opposition groups accuse the Compaore government of being slow to investigate the case, and of possibly trying to cover up the killing in order, they say, to protect those who are close to the president.

Among those taking part in a march from Ouagadougou's Revolution Square to Norbert Zongo's tomb Thursday was Denis Oualbeogo, a high school teacher. Mr. Oualbeogo says he considers the killing of Mr. Zongo an assault on freedom of the press.

Mr. Oualbeogo says, "We are marching to demand truth and justice in the case of Norbert Zongo; for all the crimes that have gone unpunished in Burkina Faso. Commissions have been set up, but no one has presented anything concrete. So," Mr. Oualbeogo says, "People want truth and justice done in these killings. We want to know who killed Norbert Zongo and why."

The march is the latest manifestation of a political and social crisis that persists in Burkina Faso, despite the Compaore government's efforts to appease the opposition.

Last year, Mr. Compaore reshuffled his government, allowing a larger number of opposition members to take top posts. Opposition groups, however, have continued to organize protests, saying they will not stop until the government allows a thorough investigation of the Zongo case.