A largely unknown military colonel has emerged to say he has taken the helm of Burkina Faso, hours after an army general had made a similar declaration following the ouster of the country's president of 27 years.

Lt. Col. Issac Yacouba Zida said early Saturday that the president's resignation amid violent street protests was an "insurrection" and not a coup, and that former President Blaise Compaore and a top aide were both safe.

He then announced: "Starting today I will assume all the responsibilities of this transition and of head of state."

Zida called on the international community including the African Union to "support our people during this difficult ordeal."

Compaore had first seized power after a 1987 coup and later refashioned himself as a regional peace broker.