Days after military officers in Mali seized power from President Ibrahim Keita, four soldiers have been killed in a bomb explosion in the centre of the country.
The AFP, quoting a military source, reports that an explosive device detonated when a vehicle conveying some of the military junta reached Koro, a borderline town with Burkina Faso, killing four soldiers and leaving one seriously injured.
The development comes a day after the military junta freed two government officials arrested during Tuesday coup.
The junta, who earlier rejected foreign interference, on Thursday gave the human rights team of the United Nations mission in Mali access to Mr Keita who is being detained alongside 17 other political leaders.
They have promised to oversee elections for a transitional government in due time.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Mali has been mired in a months-long political stalemate after the opposition rejected results of local elections held earlier this year. They called for Mr Keita’s resignation for perceived government corruption and incompetence in countering terrorism in the country.
Tensions escalated in July when at least 11 people were killed during three days of unrest following a protest.
The opposition group rejected attempts at mediation with the president, and vowed to continue staging rallies against him.
In July, Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan led a delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders to broker peace in the country where a unity government was recommended.
But the crisis persisted until it resulted in a military takeover on Tuesday.
In response to the coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Mali’s membership, shut off borders and halted financial flows to the country.
Now, as the 15-nation ECOWAS aims to reverse the regime change by force in Mali after demanding that Mr Keita be returned as the president, military junta and Malians have rejected the bloc’s demands.
Ahead of the arrival of a delegation of ECOWAS in Mali’s capital, Bamako, a mass demonstration is planned by an opposition coalition that led protests against Mr Keita, AFP reports.
Meanwhile, as the international community condemned the military takeover, Malians on Friday flooded the streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital to celebrate the coup which was described as a “a victory of the Malians people.”
According to Reuters, thousands gathered at International square in Bamako, the birthplace of months-long mass demonstrations against Mr Keita.
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The crowd was joined by the military leaders who sang, danced and waved Mali’s flag in jubilation.
“We have come here to thank you, to thank the Malian public for its support. We merely completed the work that you began and we recognise ourselves in your fight,” the military junta’s spokesman, Ismael Wague, reportedly said.
US ends military cooperation
The United States, like other International partners who have condemned the coup for fear that it could further destabilise Mali and West Africa’s entire Sahel region, said it had suspended its military cooperation with the country.
The US Sahel envoy, Peter Phame at a press conference on Friday, justified the move as a response to what he referred to an “act of mutiny.”
“Let me say categorically there is no further training or support of Malian armed forces full-stop. We have halted everything until such time as we can clarify the situation,” Mr Pham reportedly told Al Jazeera.
According to Al Jazeera, the U.S. regularly provides training to Malian soldiers.
It also offers intelligence to France’s Barkhane forces, who are there to fight affiliates of al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS).