Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Coup fears in Mali after mutiny

Civilians cheer as soldiers drive past in Bamako, Mali ahead of the storming of the state TV and radio station (AP)

Soldiers have stormed the state TV and radio station in Mali, as fears of a possible coup gripped the country in the wake of a military mutiny which spread from a garrison in the capital to one thousands of miles away.

The sound of heavy weapons rang out and lorries carrying soldiers were seen fanning out around the building housing the state broadcaster.

Television screens went black across the landlocked nation for roughly seven hours, coming back a little before midnight to announce that a government statement would soon be issued.

Throughout Africa, coups usually begin with the seizing of national television, and the population was on edge.

The presidential palace rushed to deny that a coup was in progress, issuing a Tweet, saying: "There is no coup in Mali. There's just a mutiny."

The mutiny began on Wednesday morning at a military camp in the capital, during a visit by Defence Minister General Sadio Gassama.

In his speech to the troops, the minister failed to address the grievances of the rank-and-file soldiers, who are angry over what they say is the government's mismanagement of a rebellion in the north of the country by Tuareg separatists.

The rebellion has claimed the lives of numerous soldiers, and those sent to fight are not given sufficient supplies, including arms and food.

Recruits started firing into the air, according to witnesses.

By afternoon, soldiers had surrounded the state television station in central Bamako, and by evening, troops had started rioting at a military garrison located in the northern town of Gao.

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