1 May 2012

Mali: Rebel Soldiers 'Control Situation' in Country's Capital, Bamako

Mali's ruling military leaders have said in a message aired over state television said that they are in control of the state broadcaster building, ... ( Resource: Troops Battle for Control of Mali's Capital

The soldiers who staged a putsch in Mali five weeks ago said on Tuesday they were in control of the situation in the capital Bamako after they defeated an overnight counter-coup by forces loyal to ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure.

After an evening when gunfire echoed through the capital, coup leader Captian Amadou Haya Sanogo declared early Tuesday in a message that scrolled across the screen of state television that "the situation is under control".

He said his troops were in control of the airport, the state TV and radio station and the Kati army barracks.

Gunfire had erupted at the national TV and radio station, the airport and at the garrison town near Bamako that is the headquarters of the rebel soldiers led by Sanogo. A number of people were reported to have been killed in the clashes.

The fighting followed an attempt by junta loyalists to arrest Abidine Guindo, the former chief of staff of toppled president Toure. Guindo was the head of the "Red Berets" presidential guard.

The resurgence of fighting dimmed hopes for a quick return to order in the west African country where political chaos has allowed Tuareg rebels and Islamists to seize swathes of the vast desert north.

The coup leaders, under intense regional and international pressure, have allowed a civilian interim government to take over but have kept making arrests, which witnesses said sparked the latest violence.

When the renegade soldiers staged their coup on 22 March, shortly before scheduled elections, their power grab shattered the country's image as a democratic success story in the region.

Under diplomatic pressure from Mali's partners and military pressure from the advancing rebellion in the north, the junta agreed to hand power over to Dioncounda Traore, the former parliament speaker.

Traore was sworn in as interim president on 12 April 12, but the situation in the country has remained volatile.

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