Gunfire at Mali army base amid suspicion of mutiny

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Gunfire was heard on Tuesday at an army base outside Bamako, capital of Mali, as security sources said a mutiny was underway.

According to Reuters, soldiers fired their guns into the air at the base in Kati, a garrison town about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako, where a mutiny in 2012 led to a coup d’etat.

Armoured tanks and military vehicles are reportedly patrolling the streets of Kati.

“Yes, mutiny. The military has taken up arms,” a security source was quoted to have said.

A European diplomat reportedly said a small number of members of the national guard “apparently angered by a pay dispute” had seized a munitions depot but were reported to have since been surrounded by other government troops.

Another security source reportedly said government ministry buildings were evacuated and gunfire was heard near the prime minister’s office.

There were also reports that soldiers were putting up barricades in the town and detaining military officials and ministers.

Earlier, the Norwegian Embassy in Mali had alerted its citizens of possible unrest, advising them to stay at home.

“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 embassy said a statement.

There have been mass protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita since June, with opponents calling for his resignation over “his failures to restore security, economic woes and address corruption.”

At least, 14 people were killed in clashes with security forces in July during protests.

There are concerns that the unrest from the protests could derail the fight against militancy in the region.

The news of suspected mutiny in Mali broke when ex-President Goodluck Jonathan met with President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Rock.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had appointed Jonathan as its special envoy on Mali crisis.

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