BAMAKO, Mali — Gunfire echoed across Bamako on Tuesday as Malian
government troops battled each other, with one side trying to oust
soldiers who seized power in a coup over a month ago.
Mali's coup leaders, who ostensibly handed over power to an
interim civilian government on April 12 but who still wield power, said
they control the state broadcaster, the airport and a military base,
fending off attacks by opposing forces. Coup leader Capt. Amadou Sanogo
told a private radio station Monday night that the countercoup had
failed and that his soldiers have captured foreign fighters.
A senior Western diplomat based in Bamako told The Associated
Press that the fighting apparently started when forces loyal to the
junta tried to arrest the former head of the presidential guard. The
presidential guard is part of Mali's parachutist regiment, known as the
Red Berets, who are believed to have remained loyal to President Amadou
Toumani Toure, who was ousted during the coup.
Anti-junta forces on Monday tried to take over the country's state
broadcaster and attacked the airport and the junta's main military
base. Soldiers loyal to Sanogo appeared on state television early
Tuesday and said the important installations remain in their hands after
fighting started on Monday. But heavy gunfire across Bamako suggests
that the leaders of the March coup don't yet have total control over the
A source close to the junta told AP that reinforcements were
coming from other major Malian towns to strengthen the junta's position.
"The first reinforcements have already arrived and others will be
in Bamako soon," the soldier said. He spoke on condition of anonymity as
he is not authorized to speak to the press.
A resident in the camp where most of the military personnel who
tried to stage the countercoup live said Sanogo's forces are trying to
capture those soldiers.
"Most of the families who live here and most of the military
personnel have fled, but they still come to attack the camp," the
resident said. He asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals. He said
that he could hear both small arms fire and heavy weapons but could not
give more details as he was afraid to leave his house.
State television showed a small group of prisoners along with
guns, ammunition and grenades supposedly belonging to the captured
"Those arrested come from different origins and were supported by
hidden internal forces," a statement read by soldiers Tuesday said.
"Some of these people have been detained by the armed forces and an
in-depth investigation will take place. We remind you that everyone
involved ... will be tracked down and brought before the competent
Sanogo has signed a deal with ECOWAS, the West African regional
bloc, to return the country to constitutional rule. The deal gave the
junta a supervisory role in the transition. But Sanogo said Sunday that
he rejects a plan to send ECOWAS troops to Mali to protect the
president's and prime minister's office.
Mali is also battling insecurity in its desert north where
separatist rebels have declared independence, and militants are trying
to impose strict Islamic law.
Tuareg separatist fighters and Islamic militants took advantage of
the chaos caused by the coup in Bamako last month to quickly advance
and capture the three main towns in the north of Mali at the end of
March. Mali government forces fled south without putting up any major
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