Tuesday August 18, 2020
Gunfire was heard at an army base near Mali's capital Bamako on Tuesday, sparking fears of a possible mutiny in the conflict-torn country.
According to nearby witnesses, soldiers fired gunshots into the air at a military base in Kati, a town 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Bamako, though it remained unclear who was firing at whom.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday said soldiers had launched a "mutiny" in crisis-torn Mali and urged them to immediately return to their barracks.
"This mutiny comes at a time when, for several months now, ECOWAS has been taking initiatives and conducting mediation efforts with all the Malian parties," the 15-nation bloc said in a statement.
Arrests being madeSources told DW that the leader of the coup could be Colonel Sadio Camara. DW also learned that several high-ranking politicians and officials have been arrested, including the Minister of Finance Abdoulaye Daffe and the chief of staff of the National Guard.
Meanwhile, soldiers took up arms in Kati, a town just outside of capital city Bamako, and began arresting senior military officers.
The national radio station ORTM has been evacuated. According to ORTM employees, a column of possible putschists is said to be on its way to the station.
The French and Norwegian embassies in the West African country reacted quickly, urging people to stay inside their homes.
The French foreign ministry later condemned the mutiny "in the strongest terms" and urged the Mali military to return to barracks. Over 5,000 French troops are stationed across the Sahel region that includes Mali to counter jihadi violence.
A 'volatile' situation
DW correspondent Mahamadou Kane, who is in Bamako, said: "At the present time the situation in Kati and Bamako is still very confusing. Panic reigns in both places. It's also not completely clear, whether it is just a mutiny or a military coup."
"More and more people are gathering at Independence Square in support of the government-critical M5 movement that wants to see the resignation of the president and the prime minister. They seem to support the military but it remains unclear what the demands of the military are."
"Access to Kati and strategic places in the capital have been blocked for hours. The situation remains volatile," added Kane.
Kati saw a mutiny in 2012 that led to a coup d'etat that ousted then-President Amadou Toumani Toure and contributed to the fall of northern Mali into the hands of jihadi militants.
Opponents of the current president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, have led mass protests since June, demanding the leader's resignation over what they say are his failures to restore security and deal with corruption.
At least 14 people have been killed in the unrest, according to the United Nations and human rights activists.