Renegade Mali Soldiers Claim Control of Palace

Renegade Mali soldiers said Thursday they had seized the presidential palace and arrested several ministers after a gunbattle, in an apparent coup bid in the west African nation.

BAMAKO — Renegade Mali soldiers said Thursday they had seized the presidential palace and arrested several ministers after a gunbattle, in an apparent coup bid in the west African nation.

rebels said Foreign Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and Interior Minister Kafouhouna Kone were among those held

"We are in control of the presidential palace," one of the rebels told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Another fighter said Foreign Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and Interior Minister Kafouhouna Kone were among those held by the officers.

Meanwhile an independent source said President Amadou Toumani Toure, earlier holed up in the palace as shots were traded outside, had managed to leave the premises.

A mutiny over the way government is handling a Tuareg insurrection in the north began Wednesday afternoon and turned into an apparent coup attempt as soldiers seized the government broadcaster and attacked the presidential palace.

After an hours-long media blackout, a message flashed on television promising "a declaration from soldiers in an instant" from just before midnight while music videos played in the background.