Gunfire erupted at an army base outside Mali’s capital on Tuesday, raising fears of a possible mutiny by soldiers against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The gunshots were fired at a sprawling military base in the town of Kati, about 15 kilometers northwest of Bamako.
A reporter in Mali, Bram Posthumus, told VOA English to Africa that “soldiers went on the rampage, got to the arsenals, got the guns, started shooting in the air, went out and cut off access to the camp.”
The cause of Tuesday’s unrest was not clear. Posthumus said there have been no reports of casualties, and said no one has confirmed reports of top Malian officials being abducted or arrested.
He said soldiers have now blocked off a road that runs from the camp into Bamako and past the presidential palace.
A mutiny at the same camp triggered a coup that overthrew Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure in 2012.
Earlier Tuesday, the Norwegian embassy in Mali warned that a mutiny in the armed forces was under way.
The French and Australian embassies warned their nationals to stay at home, citing reports of disturbances in Kati and Bamako.
There are reports of gunfire and civil disturbance in parts of Bamako. We advise Australian citizens in Mali to seek shelter, remain indoors and monitor local media. Australians requiring urgent consular assistance can call +61 2 6261 3305 @Smartraveller @dfat— Gregory Andrews (@AusAmbGHA) August 18, 2020
Opposition supporters have held several large protests in recent months calling for President Keita’s resignation. Clashes between security forces and protesters in July killed at least 11 people.
The president has come under increasing criticism for failure to stop an eight-year Islamist insurgency in the north. Tensions escalated in April after the Constitutional Court overturned results from a disputed parliamentary election, allowing Keita’s party to take a majority of the vacant seats.