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Gunfire heard at army base outside Mali capital

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A Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) patch worn by a soldier is pictured during the Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali, on July 29, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Gunfire was heard at an army base near Mali’s capital Bamako on Tuesday, several witnesses and a security official said, amid an ongoing political crisis in the Sahel state.

Soldiers fired their guns into the air in a military base in Kati, a town some 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako.

“There were lots of them and they were very nervous,” a doctor in the town told AFP.

A security official, who was on site, confirmed that soldiers had been firing into the air and that they appeared to be acting in coordination.

The current situation remains unclear, but news of the soldiers opening fire quickly triggered fears of a coup attempt in fragile Mali.

The embassy of France, the former colonial power, recommended on social media on Tuesday that everyone remain inside their homes.

Mali has been mired in deep political impasse for months, as President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has come under fierce pressure from the opposition June 5 Movement to resign.

The loose alliance of opposition and religious leaders has been channelling deep anger over a dire economy, perceived government corruption and a brutal jihadist conflict.

But the June 5 Movement’s push to topple Keita veered into crisis last month, when at least 11 people were killed during three days of unrest following a protest.

The opposition group has since rejected attempts at mediation with the 75-year-old president, and vowed to continue staging rallies against him.

Mali’s eight-year jihadist conflict is thought to be contributing to current political tensions in the country, with Keita under pressure to stop the fighting.

The government has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency that first broke out in 2012, and which has claimed thousands of lives since.


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