Malian soldiers opened fire on demonstrators in the troubled northern city of Kidal Thursday, residents said, wounding five people in an altercation that highlighted tensions over the country’s new government.
The demonstrators gathered at Kidal airfield to protest the arrival of Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly on an official visit after the government announced provisional results from the first round of legislative elections Sunday.After refusing requests from United Nations peacekeepers and the Malian military to leave, demonstrators began throwing rocks at Malian soldiers, who responded with live ammunition, witnesses said.
“It was when they began throwing stones at the military that the military retaliated and shot at the crowd. Four women and a man were wounded,” Kidal resident Moussa Maiga said.
However, Mamary Camara, zone commander for the Malian army in Kidal, disputed the witnesses’ account, saying stone-throwing protesters had used the women as shields to block them from the Malian soldiers, and that Malian soldiers only fired into the air.