Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Junta troops overrun Red Berets

Soldiers loyal to junta chief Capt Amadou Sanogo patrol in Bamako, Mali (AP)
Soldiers loyal to junta chief Capt Amadou Sanogo patrol in Bamako, Mali (AP)

After fierce fighting in Mali's capital, troops loyal to the junta have overrun the main camp of the soldiers who tried to oust them in a counter-coup.

Gunfire echoed across Bamako as Malian government troops battled each other on Tuesday, killing at least 12 people.

Mali's coup leaders who took power over a month ago and ostensibly handed control over to an interim civilian government on April 12, said they control the state broadcaster, the airport and a military base, fending off attacks by opposing forces.

Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo told a private radio station on Monday night that the counter-coup 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 on Monday 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, part of the faction that was seen as the most reluctant to submit to the authority of the junta. The regiment was the most loyal to ex-president Amadou Toumani Toure when he was in power.

Residents near the Red Berets' camp said there had been heavy fighting there on Tuesday, and that pro-junta troops were overrunning the camp.

"Captain Sanogo's troops have made it into the main camp of the Red Berets in Djicoroni," a resident who lives near the camp said. "They are going from building to building looking for any of the troops left but I think everyone has left already."

Anti-junta forces tried to take over the country's state broadcaster and attacked the airport and the junta's main military base on Monday.

Yaya Konate, the head of the broadcast station, said that troops arrived at the station at around 6.30pm on Monday firing in the air and told all personnel working there to leave. He said the soldiers who took charge of the building were from the Red Berets.

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