Mali - Ruling Junta Soldiers Foils Counter Coup Bid


Soldiers from Mali's ruling junta foiled a counter-coup bid by presidential guardsmen on Tuesday, overrunning their base in the capital and fending off their assaults on the airport and the state broadcaster.
The clashes in the West African state - a posterchild of African democracy before a March 22 putsch and a Tuareg rebellion thrust it into chaos - came as a setback to early international efforts to restore constitutional order.

France, Mali's former colonial ruler, said it was "extremely concerned" by the clashes and called for them to stop, while West African regional bloc ECOWAS said the fighting had delayed talks intended to guide its transition.
"Only by re-establishing civil order will the transitional government be able to deal with the situation it faces," a French foreign ministry spokesman said.
Members of the red beret presidential guard unit attacked important sites in and around Bamako late on Monday and into Tuesday in an apparent attempt to unseat the junta that has been in power since it ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure.
At least 27 people have been killed in the fighting, which centered on the state television broadcaster, the airport and the main camps of the rival military factions, according to medical sources.
Fighting died down Tuesday afternoon after the junta took control of the presidential guard barracks in Bamako.
Dozens of residents near the presidential guard unit's camp, scene of heavy shooting since fighting broke out late on Monday, broke into applause as the junta soldiers entered the deserted compound firing their weapons into the air in celebration.
"The camp has fallen, it is empty and the red berets have left," a junta officer said, asking not to be named.
A witness said he counted at least 10 dead bodies in and around the camp, most wearing presidential guard uniforms. He said the wives of the soldiers that had been living in the barracks had fled to nearby mosques.
The junta issued a statement later on Tuesday saying it was in control of the state broadcaster, the airport and other important sites, and adding that the counter-coup bid had been backed by foreign fighters.
"The events yesterday were probably (caused) by mercenaries from elsewhere with backing from some paratroopers," junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, wearing a green beret and uniform and perched on a white sofa, said over state television.
The station broadcast images of captured fighters, including one that held up a Burkina Faso identification card after a junta soldier pulled on his ear and ordered him to present himself to the camera.
Sanogo urged remaining red berets to put down their weapons and hand themselves over to junta authorities.

No comments