Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Counter mutiny rumoured after coup

Television screens throughout Mali momentarily went black, as residents near the building housing the state broadcaster saw troops erecting barricades, fearing a possible counter-coup a day after a military takeover.

On Thursday, mutinous troops seized control of the state television station, and announced they had overthrown the government. The country's democratically elected president has not been heard from since.

The renegade troops pillaged the presidential palace and on Friday began stealing everything from people's cars to the bananas sold by elderly women on street corners.

The television signal went dead for around an hour late on Friday afternoon, then flickered back on.

Facing the camera were a group of a dozen soldiers, who read a prepared statement denying that the leader of their coup had been killed, or that the station had been taken back by troops loyal to the country's legitimate government. Hours later, coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo appeared on TV to say he was fine.

He apologised for the looting, but deflected blame saying: "I have concrete proof that ill-intentioned people wore army and police uniforms to break into some people's places in order to turn the population against us ... I call on all Malians to stop the pillaging. That is neither our mission, nor our cause, nor our objective."

The camera panned around the room to show the soldiers wearing different coloured uniforms and berets. The coup leader pointed out that there were members of the police, the gendarmerie and the parachute regiment, a show of unity meant to dispel reports of a divide within the army.

The scene outside the station suggested that all was not in order. Sporadic shots rang out and large numbers of soldiers were seen amassing outside.

President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown in this week's military takeover, is himself a seasoned soldier, who headed the country's parachute commando unit.

There has been speculation that loyalist troops, especially those at the 33rd Parachute Infantry Regiment which Mr Toure once belonged to will attempt to take back power.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph