Gunfire heard at Mali army base as embassy warns of possible mutiny
BAMAKO (Reuters) – Gunfire was heard on Tuesday at an army base outside Mali’s capital Bamako as the Norwegian Embassy and security sources said a possible mutiny was under way.
Local residents and security sources said there was gunfire at the army base in Kati, about 15 km (9 miles) outside Bamako, where a mutiny in 2012 led to a coup d’etat, although it was not immediately clear who was firing at whom.
A source who handles security for non-governmental organisations in Mali said gunfire had also been heard near the prime minister’s office.
Kalifa Naman, a senior official at state television ORTM, said its headquarters has been evacuated. There have been no reports of any attack on state TV, which was still broadcasting recorded programming, as usual.
“The embassy has been notified of a mutiny in the Armed Forces and troops are on their way to Bamako. Norwegians should exercise caution and preferably stay at home until the situation is clear,” the Norwegian Embassy said in an alert to its citizens.
“Yes, mutiny. The military has taken up arms,” a security source said.
A military spokesman confirmed that gunshots were fired at the base in Kati, but said he did not have any further information.
Opponents of the current president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, have led mass protests since June calling on Keita to resign over what they say are his failures to restore security and address corruption.
At least 14 people have been killed in the protests, according to the United Nations and human rights activists.
Regional powers are worried that any prolonged unrest from the protests could derail the fight against Islamist militants in the region, many of whom are centred in Mali. Their presence has rendered large areas of the centre and north of Mali ungovernable.
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Keita had hoped that concessions to opponents and recommendations from a mediating delegation of regional leaders would help stem the tide of dissatisfaction.
In a message to its citizens on Thursday morning, the French Embassy in Bamako said: “Because of serious unrest this morning, Aug. 18, in the city of Bamako, it is immediately recommended to remain at home.”
The 2012 mutiny at the base led to a coup that toppled then-President Amadou Toumani Toure and contributed to the fall of northern Mali to jihadist militants. (This story refiles to fix spelling of Mali in first paragraph)
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