Mali govt leaders safe - coup leader
Bamako - Mali's coup leader said on Friday that members of the government arrested by soldiers were safe and sound and would soon be handed over to the country's judicial system.
"These people are safe and sound. We will not touch a hair on their heads. I will hand them over to the courts so that the Malian people know the truth," Captain Amadou Sanogo told AFP in an interview.
He was speaking at a military barracks 15km from Bamako, surrounded by rank-and-file soldiers, who appear to form the backbone behind the coup, with few officers present amongst the putsch leaders.
It was at this barracks in Kati that a mutiny broke out on Wednesday, leading to a full-blown coup after months of anger over the government's response to a Tuareg rebellion in the north.
Soldiers attacked the presidential palace, which was shown pitted with bullet holes, a small part of it blackened by fire, in images broadcast on state television - also under control of the putschists.
Sanogo condemned looting, including that of government vehicles, by soldiers in the wake of the coup.
"I ask the population to forgive us for any inconvenience caused, and I ask for a stop to looting," he said, adding vandalism had also been carried out by people with "bad intentions" who had put on uniforms and taken to looting.