Friday, February 08, 2013

Mali Junta Troops Attack Toure Loyalists in Bamako

Mali junta troops attack Toure loyalists in Bamako

Fri Feb 8, 2013 1:58PM GMT

Malian junta troops have attacked a camp of elite paratroopers loyal to ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure in the capital, Bamako.

"From 6:00 a.m. (local and GMT) heavily armed soldiers, from all units, attacked the camp," AFP quoted the "Red Beret" soldiers inside the camp as saying on Friday.

There were also witness reports of many injuries inside the camp.

The attack erupted apparently in response to a declaration by the army chief of defense staff earlier this week.

General Tahirou Dembele ordered paratroopers to the frontline of the French-led war with Malian fighters in the north, adding that he had decided to incorporate the elite soldiers within other units.

But the paratroopers - who formed part of an elite presidential guard protecting Toure before his ouster in March 2012 - refused to join their new units or to leave their camp.

Meanwhile, a man on a motorbike blew himself up at a military checkpoint near the northern city of Gao.

Thousands of people in Mali have been forced to flee their homes since France launched its war on the West African nation on January 11, under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters in the country's north.

The French war involved some 3,500 troops on the ground supported by warplanes, helicopters and armored vehicles.

In mid-January, the European Union approved the dispatch of about 450 military personnel to assist the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).

On February 1, Amnesty International condemned “serious human rights breaches” including the killing of children in the French war in Mali.

Some political analysts believe that Mali’s abandoned natural resources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind the French war.

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