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Mali officer arrested over coup bid

07 June 2014, 09:14

Bamako - A Malian army officer has been arrested for "an attempted coup", a senior government official said on Friday, a day after his family reported he had been kidnapped.

"Lieutenant Mohamed Ouattara has been arrested - and not abducted -- for an attempted coup, for a bid to destabilise the institutions of the republic and for a breach of state security," the official said, asking not to be named.

An official document seen by AFP stated that Ouattara, along with other military officers and "accomplices", aimed to overthrow the regime of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was elected last year, marking a return to civilian rule following a March 2012 coup.

The government official said several other arrests had been made and that more would follow, but gave no further details of the alleged coup plot in the west African country.

On Thursday, Ouattara's family, including his father retired Colonel Yaya Ouattara, said the lieutenant had been kidnapped in the capital Bamako "by armed individuals wearing military uniform".

Lieutenant Ouattara is a member of the "Red Berets" paratroop corps, who remained loyal to their former commander, president Amadou Toumani Toure, after his ouster in the 2012 coup led by Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo.

The Red Berets were foiled in a bid to carry out a counter-coup a month later and were hunted down by Sanogo's forces, which plunged the formerly stable democracy into chaos.

Since early December last year, almost 30 bodies believed to be those of Red Beret troops captured by Sanogo's regime have been found in ditches near Kati, a garrison town 15km from Bamako where the coup leader had set up base.

Sanogo's power-grab paved the way for ethnic Tuareg rebels and armed extremists linked to Al-Qaeda to seize key towns in the desert north of the country, where the Islamists gained the upper hand until France led international military intervention in January 2013.

The campaign is still under way against armed groups who melted into the desert.

After Keita took office last September, Sanogo and a score of aides were charged and jailed for "complicity in kidnapping, kidnappings and assassinations" in an official probe into the disappearance of Red Beret soldiers.



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