The military government of Mali has arrested guards of a UN camp at Bamako airport, in a move slammed by the German government.
The detainees from neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire were flown to Mali as a replacement contingent for another unit within the UN MINUSMA peacekeeping mission, German military sources in Berlin told dpa on Wednesday.
Earlier, on Tuesday, the government in Bamako announced it had arrested 49 soldiers from the neighbouring country, describing them as “mercenaries.’’
The soldiers had landed in the capital on Sunday with weapons, ammunition and military equipment without permission, according to Mali.
They had “illegally’’ entered the country, the government said, and were planning to attempt a coup.
Mali, with a population of some 20 million, has experienced three military coups since 2012.
Since the last one in May 2021, the country has been led by a military transitional government, which has been criticised for close relations with Russia.
The military junta had promised elections by the end of March 2024.
For years, Islamist terror groups had been causing unrest in the country.
The German army is still involved in the MINUSMA mission in Mali, but the EU training mission EUTM is to be largely stopped.
German Defence Minister, Christine Lambrecht had sharp words for the Mali’s military leadership on Wednesday.
“The behaviour of Malian rulers is a very problematic signal. Once again, it unfortunately prompts doubts about whether Mali has any interest at all in constructive cooperation within the framework of MINUSMA,’’ Lambrecht told dpa .
“I call on the Malian leaders to release the Ivorian soldiers immediately,’’ she added. (dpa)