Gunfire rocks Bamako for third day

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IOL pic may3 mali violence

Associated Press

Women wait for medical attention at a hospital in Timbuktu, Mali. Villagers were caught in the middle as government soldiers continued to fight each other for control of the capital, Bamako, this week.

Bamako - Gunfire rang out for a third day on Wednesday in Mali's capital, Bamako, following clashes between soldiers loyal to the military junta and supporters of the ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure, local media reports said.

According to Malian radio, the sound of gunfire came from the state broadcasting house, ORTM. Residents fled from the area in shared taxis and on motorcycles.

Among them was Aissatu Toure, 28. She had been selling fruit near the premises when fighting broke out. “The fighting was quite heavy. I didn't stay to see who was fighting against who,” she told local radio.

According to a military source, shots rang out near the army base where Abidine Guindo, the head of the presidential red berets guard, was sheltering.

At least 25 people were killed during fighting on Tuesday, as members of the red berets attempted to wrest control from the military junta following its March 22 coup.

An interim government had been installed in the wake of the coup. But plans for peace suffered an initial setback last month when the government, backed by the junta, refused to accept 3 000 foreign peacekeeping troops under a deal with the regional bloc Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States).

Radio reports said the junta had won back control of ORTM - which has been closed to journalists since Monday night - and key military bases on Wednesday afternoon. But as the day drew to a close on Wednesday, fighting continued in the city centre, reports said.

In a live television address the prime minister of the interim government, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, said that foreign fighters participated in “the attempt to destabilise Mali and its army”.

Diarra called for calm and told workers to return to their jobs on Thursday; many offices have been closed since Monday night.

An Ecowas summit is due to be held in Dakar on Thursday. The talks were initially scheduled to focus on Mali's regional neighbour Guinea-Bissau, also in the throes of a coup, but Ecowas said on Wednesday that the situation in Mali will also be discussed. - Sapa-dpa


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