Mali Coup Leaders ‘Disappear’ 20 Soldiers Linked to Counter Coup: Group

Posted July 25th, 2012 at 3:30 am (UTC-5)
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Human Rights Watch says soldiers loyal to Mali's coup leader have forcibly disappeared at least 20 soldiers allegedly linked to an April counter coup attempt.

The New York-based group says the forces of Captain Amadou Sanogo have rounded up dozens thought to support the failed counter coup led by those loyal to ousted President Toumani Toure.

The rights group says many of the detainees were tortured and held in cramped prisons for days without food or drink. The 20 disappeared soldiers are feared to be dead.

It says Sanogo's forces have also intimidated and harassed journalists and family members who are searching for their missing relatives.

Sanogo and other military officers seized power in March, accusing President Toure of failing to properly equip the army to handle a Tuareg rebellion in the north.

Under international pressure, Sanogo agreed in April to hand power to a transitional government to organize new elections. But Human Rights Watch says he has continued to exert “considerable influence,” mainly with the backing of security forces.

An elite unit of paratroopers known as the Red Berets attempted to take back power from Sanogo during an April 30 counter coup, but were put down by the ruling military junta.

Following the March coup, Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups won control of key cities in northern Mali. Since then, the Islamist groups have seized full control of the region, while Mali's army has struggled to re-organize.