Gunshots and explosions heard near key military base in Mali

Gunshots were heard early Friday near a key military base near the Malian capital, according to local journalists and residents, although the cause of the explosions was not immediately clear.

A local resident, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said “around 5 a.m. unidentified armed men attacked Kati”, a town on the outskirts of the Malian capital Bamako where there is a important military base.

“We were woken up at five o’clock by shots, by explosions, we don’t know what’s going on,” said another resident.

Another source told AFP: “Our base is under attack.”

At 8 a.m. local time, an AFP reporter also heard detonations coming from inside the camp.

Members of the Malian special forces were deployed in the area and two helicopters flew over the area.

The French Embassy sent text messages to French nationals saying “attack in progress in Kati” and urging caution.

Local authorities in Kati could not immediately be reached for comment.

Military base at the heart of past coupsThe Kati base is the hub of the Malian military apparatus. The base was the scene of mutinies in 2012 and 2020 which led to successful coups,

The landlocked and impoverished country is ruled by a junta led by Colonel Assimi Goita, which ousted the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in August 2020 and carried out a second coup the following May.

The junta staged a second coup in 2021 to oust an interim civilian president who disagreed with Goita.

Goita then became interim president. He plans to continue leading a transitional government until elections are held in 2024.

His government has repeatedly argued with neighboring countries and international powers over election delays, alleged military abuses and cooperation with Russian mercenaries in the fight against the Islamist insurgency.

Despite coming to power pledging to stamp out the insurgency, the junta was unable to prevent the insurgents from expanding their operations further south from their northern and central havens.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and Reuters)

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