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Uneasy Calm Returns to Mali Following Heavy Fighting

April 30, 2012

Peter Clottey

A prominent politician in Mali says an alleged counter coup d’état orchestrated late Monday night by a section of the military seems to have failed.

Cheick Traore, leader of the African Convergence for Renewal (CARE) party and son of former President Moussa Traore, said Malians are confused by the state of affairs following heavy gun fighting between soldiers who support the junta and the Red Beret commandos. The commandos are said to support former President Amadou Toumani Toure.

“The junta sent some soldiers to arrest Abidine Guindo, the former chief of staff of the Red Berets. The commandos refused to give him up [and fighting erupted]. And then the commandos went to the national television and tried to take it over. I believe some people lost their lives,” said Traore.

“The junta sent more soldiers towards the national television, and I can say this [late] evening they are in control so far of the national TV.”

Abidine Guindo, the former chief of staff of the Red Beret commandos, is believed to have taken former President Toure to safety after mutinous soldiers stormed the presidential palace during the March 22 coup d’état.

Traore said the genesis of the alleged counter coup d’état is not yet clear.

‘The question is who is behind that counter coup. That’s what we might know in the coming hours or days…Captain [Amadou] Sanogo is supposed to make an announcement in [a] few hours on national TV, so we would know for sure what all of these things are about. Also, we would know for sure who is in control of what.”

The heavy fighting is believed to have started at the junta’s headquarters in Kati, just outside Bamako.

Traore said an uneasy calm has returned to the capital, Bamako, following the fight between the Red Beret commandos and soldiers supporting the junta.

“Now things are quiet, and the junta said that they are in total control."

Meanwhile, during a live television broadcast, junta leader Captain Sanogo sharply denied the attempted arrest of former chief of staff Abidine Guindo. He blamed foreign mercenaries for the attempted counter coup d’état.

Traore said the junta leader promised to begin on Tuesday showing the lifeless bodies of the soldiers who he said orchestrated Monday’s coup attempt.

“They killed a lot of them and arrested a lot of them, and they [said] that there are a lot of mercenaries among them. So to them it was a coup d’état not coming only from Mali but coming from outside also. He said that they will show the bodies of all of the people involved in this thing and those arrested [who] came from other countries.”

The junta leader also vowed to arrest more of the perpetrators behind the coup who he said will attempt to flee the country.

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