Mali president dismisses coup speculation

Mali's re-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. (File, AFP)
Mali's re-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. (File, AFP)

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Sunday rejected as speculation talk of a military coup after recent jihadist attacks left dozens of soldiers dead near the border with Burkina Faso.

Keita said lessons would be learned after 38 soldiers were killed in two attacks last week, a death toll that observers say is probably an underestimate.

"No military coup will prevail in Mali, let it be said," the president said in remarks recorded on Saturday and released on Sunday. "And I don't think this is on the agenda at all and cannot worry us," he added.

Also on Sunday, the UN mission MINUSMA said one peacekeeper was killed and five others were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in the northeast of the former French colony.

The peacekeepers were carrying out a security patrol near the town of Aguelhok when the device detonated, spokesperson Olivier Salgado said on Twitter.

Keita said after the attacks last Monday and Tuesday in the central towns of Boulkessy and Mondoro that the semi-desert country was "at war".

"What happened at Boulkessy could unfortunately happen again," Keita said of the attacks, which evoked memories of a 2012 army coup in Mali.

The assailants used heavily armed vehicles in the raids on the two military camps, during which the government said troops killed 15 jihadists.

The jihadists made off with a large quantity of arms, ammunition and equipment - local media said about 20 vehicles were captured, including some mounted with machine guns.

Sources said Malian special forces and foreign allies, including French warplanes and helicopters, helped to quash the attacks.

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