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Malian soldiers fired at paratroops' families -witnesses

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 8 Feb 2013 17:19 GMT
Author: Reuters
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BAMAKO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Malian government soldiers and police on Friday opened fire on the families of paratroopers loyal to a deposed president at their camp in the capital Bamako on Friday, killing or wounding a number of people, witnesses said.

A initial version of events given by Malian government officers had spoken of a heavy gunbattle in the riverside capital involving armed mutinous paratroops loyal to President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was toppled in a coup last year.

But witnesses at the Djikoroni-Para base in western Bamako, including a Reuters photographer, said they only saw the government forces open fire when the wives and children of the paratroopers resisted them, some throwing stones.

"The soldiers and gendarmes burst in and started shooting," Seydou Kone, a resident at the camp, told Reuters. Other camp residents gave a similar version of events, saying the paratroopers had been deprived of their arms since they attempted a counter-coup last year after the ousting of Toure.

The witnesses said several people were killed or wounded.

Despite repeated requests, Mali's government spokesman declined to give an official version of the incident at the paratroop base, saying interim President Dioncounda Traore would speak about it later in an address to the nation. (Reporting by Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako, Bate Felix in Dakar; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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