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Mali government says it has thwarted countercoup attempt

BAMAKO, MALI (AP) – The Malian government headed by a two-time coup leader announced late Monday that security forces had thwarted a countercoup attempt that it said was supported by an unnamed Western government.

The announcement was the latest turmoil to unfold in Mali, where Colonel Assimi Goita led coups in 2020 and 2021 before becoming president.

The news release did not name the country it was accusing. However, relations with former coloniser France have deteriorated significantly under Goita’s rule, prompting the French military to begin a withdrawal of its forces that had spent nine years fighting extremists.

“These soldiers were supported by a Western state,” said the statement signed by the government spokesman, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga. “The government of the Republic of Mali condemns with the utmost rigor this outrageous attack on state security, the purpose of which is to hinder – or even annihilate – the substantial efforts to secure our country and return to a constitutional order that guarantees peace and stability,” the statement continued.

The government news release, also read by Maiga on state television, gave few details but said security forces had put down the coup last Wednesday night.

It added that security had been stepped up at checkpoints on the roads leaving the capital, Bamako, in an effort to catch accomplices.

The accusations of foreign interference come as Goita’s regime becomes increasingly isolated. A day earlier, the government spokesman had announced that Mali was dropping out of a five-nation regional security force known as the G5.