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Mali dispute: Junta claims control

Gunfire echoed across Bamako 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 on Monday night that the countercoup had failed and that his soldiers had captured foreign fighters.

A senior Western diplomat based in Bamako said 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 today and said the important installations remain in their hands after fighting started yesterday. But heavy gunfire across Bamako suggests that the leaders of the March coup do not yet have total control over the capital.

A source close to the junta said 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.

State television showed a small group of prisoners along with guns, ammunition and grenades supposedly belonging to the captured troops.

"Those arrested come from different origins and were supported by hidden internal forces," a statement read by soldiers 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 jurisdictions."


From Belfast Telegraph