"We are in control of the presidential palace," said one of the mutineering soldiers Thursday after renegade troops attack and seized Mali’s seat of power in a Wednesday overnight gun battle, arresting several ministers, including Foreign Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, in what the defence ministry described as a ‘coup de etat attempt’ in protest over the government's handling of a nomad-led rebellion in the north of the West African nation, Mail&Guardian said.
A defence ministry official said President Amadou Toumani Toure was in a secure location and has yet to give an official statement but United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has already called for calm and urged the soldiers to settle their grievances democratically.
A military source said soldiers have for weeks appealed for better weapons to fight the Tuareg-led rebellion gaining grounds in the north, but that the attack was triggered when a defence ministry official visited a barrack in the town of Kati about 20km north of Bamako.
At the meeting, a soldier accused the defence minister of betraying them by not giving them means to fight the rebels, and then they began throwing rocks at the minister before taking weapons from the armoury and shooting in the air.
The renegade soldiers also interrupted programs on state television but it was not clear to what extent they were in control of key government establishments when broadcast came back on air late Wednesday.