Unrest in Mali Capital; Radio, TV Off Air

Posted March 21st, 2012 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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State radio and television have gone off the air in Mali's capital, where soldiers launched a protest Wednesday against the government's handling of a rebellion.

Soldiers stormed the state broadcaster after demanding better weapons to fight ethnic Tuareg rebels who have seized several towns in Mali's remote northern desert region.

Witnesses tell VOA that guards have sealed off the area around the presidential palace, though it was not clear whether soldiers were attempting a coup.

The protest began earlier at the Kati military camp in a suburb of Bamako. Soldiers fired their guns into the air after a meeting with Mali's defense minister that apparently went badly. At least two soldiers were wounded during the protest.

Wives and mothers of the soldiers held a separate protest in Bamako last month, also demanding that the soldiers get better weapons to fight the rebels.

Tuareg fighters began their rebellion in January, after many Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they had assisted ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Tuareg nomads have launched periodic uprisings for greater autonomy in both Mali and Niger.