Mali rebels advance in north, mutineers seek president

By REUTERS
March 23, 2012 03:08

 
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BAMAKO - Tuareg rebels in northern Mali pushed south to occupy positions vacated by government forces, sources said, as mutinous soldiers in the distant capital sought to complete a coup by arresting the president.

The MNLA rebels were approaching towns in the desert north, apparently taking advantage of the confusion created by a coup attempt in the capital Bamako by low-ranking soldiers angry at the government's handling of the uprising.

By late on Wednesday, the mutinous soldiers had over-run the presidential palace, were in control of state television and roamed the streets of Bamako. But President Amadou Toumani Toure's whereabouts were still unconfirmed, officials said.

Mali, which was flooded with men and weapons after Libya's civil war, was being rocked by crises - including the Tuareg-led rebellion, a growing Islamist threat and a food crisis - well before the soldiers mutinied.

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