08 February 2013

Mali Military Mutiny Makes Muddied Messages

Paratroopers in Mali are are mutinying in Bamako.

Malian government soldiers fought mutinous paratroops in the capital Bamako on Friday in a clash that threatened to undermine a French-led military operation to drive al Qaeda-allied Islamist rebels from the north.
Local residents fled in panic as heavy gunfire echoed from the Djikoroni-Para paratrooper base on the Niger River in western Bamako as Malian army units with armored vehicles surrounded the camp.
Smoke rose from the base, where mutinous members of the 'red beret' paratroop unit loyal to deposed Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure started firing with their weapons to protest attempts to reassign some of them, Malian officers said.
At least one person was killed, state media reported.
The clash between forces loyal to Mali's current rulers and the Toure partisans revealed splits in the armed forces still lingering after a military coup in March that plunged the previously stable West African state into chaos.
The coup resulted in Tuareg rebels seizing the north in a revolt later hijacked by Islamist radicals. Mali is Africa's third-largest gold producer after Ghana and South Africa.
The Bamako fighting pointed to serious weaknesses in the Malian state which could set back the rapid military gains made by France's four-week-old military intervention in north Mali, which has driven Islamist insurgents from the major urban areas.

Somewhere on the front lines, the French are thinking "WTF?"

By: Brant

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