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New clashes in Mali leave 12 dead

Gunfire echoed across Bamako yesterday as Malian government troops battled each other, killing at least 12 people as one side tried to oust soldiers who seized power in a coup more than a month ago.

Mali's coup leaders, who ostensibly handed over power to an interim civilian government on 12 April but who still wield power, said they control the state broadcaster, the airport and a military base, fending off attacks by opposing forces. Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo told a private radio station on Monday that the counter-coup had failed and that his soldiers have captured foreign fighters.

A senior Western diplomat based in Bamako told the Associated Press that the fighting apparently started on Monday when forces loyal to the junta tried to arrest the former head of the presidential guard. The presidential guard is part of Mali's parachutist regiment, known as the Red Berets, who are believed to have remained loyal to President Amadou Toumani Touré, who was ousted during the coup.