Mali: protests over clashes with Tuareg rebels

AP News
Posted: Feb 02, 2012 9:35 AM
Mali: protests over clashes with Tuareg rebels

Protestors surrounded the palace of Mali's president on Thursday, angry about the government's handling of attacks by Tuareg rebels in the country's north.

Protests entered a fourth day Thursday, with demonstrators blocking the streets of the capital, Bamako. Soldiers' families demonstrated in a nearby town.

A witness, journalist Rokia Diabate, said the hundreds of protesters outside the palace were mostly young people.

"They are at the gates, but haven't got in yet. They are demanding to see the president." Diabate said.

Diabate said there are only a handful of security forces at the palace and for the moment they have not intervened.

Families protesting in the town of Kati say soldiers are not equipped to fight the rebels. On Wednesday, protesters there attacked the business and home of a Tuareg family.

In the capital, Bamako, tires burned in the streets, and shops and businesses were shuttered.

President Amadou Toumani Toure warned Malians not to discriminate in a televised address on Wednesday night, his first major speech since fighting began Jan. 17.

Rebels have attacked six towns across Mali's north. The heaviest fighting was around the town of Aguelhok, where military sources say at least 40 soldiers were killed.