Gunfire erupts in Mali's Bamako, junta claims control

Tue May 1, 2012 12:50pm GMT

By Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Heavy gunfire erupted near Mali's state television in Bamako on Tuesday on the second day of fighting between forces from the ruling junta and soldiers believed to be loyal to ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure, witnesses said.

Shooting cracked out from the direction of the television building, Reuters witnesses said, and people were fleeing the area along the road to the building.

"We were on our way there, but were told there is fighting going on around the ORTM (state television) and we were told to go back," one witness said. Another witness said there was also shooting in other parts of the city.

The military junta said the fighting, which broke out late on Monday, was an attempt to reverse a March 22 coup that ousted Toure, adding that there was evidence that foreign fighters were backing the effort.

The coup, which derailed April elections meant to replace Toure and which came in the midst of a rebellion in Mali's desert north, has been internationally condemned, and West African regional bloc ECOWAS has said it plans to deploy a force to oversee a transition back to democratic rule.

Speaking to a local radio station overnight, junta chief Captain Amadou Sanogo said the fighting broke out after he had sent some units to the presidential guard barracks to tell them that Malian forces should remain united.

"During the exchange between my guys and the paratroopers, some of them decided to battle us once and for all," he said.

"They tried to seize Kati (army base), take control of the radio and television and the airport. But we had been prepared. We managed to kill some and captured others. Among the captives there are foreign troops that we'll show on TV."   Continued...

Mali's junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo speaks during a news conference at his headquarters in Kati April 3, 2012. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
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