About one month after a group of soldiers ousted Mali’s democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Toure, members of the Red Beret presidential guard unit have attempted a countercoup, the Associated Press reported.
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The unit, loyal to Toure, fought the members of the military junta now ruling the county on the streets of Bamako today, witnesses and a junta official told the AP.
"There is heavy firing all around. It is continuing. The streets are deserted. No one is moving," a witness told Reuters.
The head of the country’s national broadcast station told the AP that Red Beret troops took over the building around 6:30 p.m.
Red Beret soldiers also surrounded the airport, according to Reuters. A witness told the AP that he saw a convoy of military vehicles en route to the town of Kati, just outside Bamako, the location of the junta’s headquarters.
"These are elements of the presidential guard from the old regime and they're trying to turn things around," Bacary Mariko, a spokesman for the ruling military junta, told Reuters. "We have the situation under control."
Mariko told Reuters that the anti-junta forces were supported by mercenaries in the region.
Toure fled to neighboring Senegal on Mar. 22, Reuters reported. Junta leader Capt. Amadou Sanago signed a deal with the West African regional bloc ECOWAS that gave the junta a supervisory role in the transition back to constitutional rule, the AP reported.
But West African heads of state attending an ECOWAS summit on April 26 called for the soldiers to get out of politics completely, according to the AP.
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