Freed Malian politician Soumaila Cisse, French aid worker Sophie Petronin and two Italians arrived in Bamako on Thursday aboard a Malian military transport plane, ending their lengthy captivity in the hands of Islamist insurgents. It was unclear whether or not a ransom was paid. The Malian government said in a statement that the release was obtained thanks to efforts by Mali security services, and international partners, but gave no further details.
The military junta ruling Mali following this week’s coup is seeking a transitional president to return the country civilian rule, the group’s spokesman said. His words come as West African leaders are escalating pressure on the junta and urging them to restore President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to power. Wague, however, denied that the junta had carried out a coup d’etat, saying that Mali still has constitutional order.
Mali’s president announced his resignation late Tuesday, just hours after armed soldiers seized him from his home in a dramatic power grab following months of protests demanding his ouster. The news of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators and alarm by former colonial ruler France, and other allies and foreign nations.
At least 95 people were killed Sunday evening when armed men attacked an ethnic Dogon village in central Mali. The gunmen set fire to the village and fired shots, fleeing at around midnight, the mayor, Ali Dolo, said. The attack was carried out by Fulani men, he said. The Dogon and the Fulani have clashed in the past over access to land and water.
The death toll from Saturday’s attack by gunmen on villagers in central Mali has risen to 157, a government spokesman said, confirming it as one of the worst recent atrocities in a country beset by ethnic violence. The attack, in which women and children were burned in their homes, marked an escalation in violence between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders that killed hundreds of civilians last year and is spreading across Africa’s Sahel, the region between the Sahara to the north and the continent’s savannas to the south.