Colonel Amadou Keita "is among the arrested putschists," a Defence Ministry official tells AFP news agency, days after ruling junta claimed to thwart a coup attempt in the West African country.

Mali announced on Monday that it had thwarted a would-be putsch last week that was led by army officers and
Mali announced on Monday that it had thwarted a would-be putsch last week that was led by army officers and "supported by a Western state." (AFP)

A colonel, reputed to be close to Mali's ruling junta, has been arrested following what the authorities describe as an attempted coup that was defeated last week, two sources said.

An official at the Defence Ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AFP news agency that "Colonel (Amadou) Keita is among the arrested putschists."

Keita is not well-known publicly but is reputed to have been among army officers who seized power in August 2020, later strengthening their grip in a second coup in May the following year.

He is one of the 120 members of the National Transition Council (CNT) –– a legislature appointed by the junta to pass laws pending a declared return to civilian rule.

Keita is also said to be close to the CNT's president, Colonel Malick Diaw, who is one of the most influential figures in the junta led by strongman Colonel Assimi Goita.

"We have had no news of Colonel Amadou Keita since the 12th," a close relative of his told AFP, also requesting anonymity.

"Two of his comrades have told us that he has been arrested." The relative gave no reasons for Keita's disappearance.

READ MORE: Mali blames unnamed 'Western state' for failed coup bid

Coup bid backed by 'Western state'

The junta announced on Monday that it had thwarted a would-be putsch last week that was led by army officers and "supported by a Western state."

The mysterious episode marks the latest bout of turbulence in the West African country, which has experienced two coups in less than two years.

According to the junta's statement read on state TV late Monday, the coup bid happened on the night of May 11.

Officers and junior officers were involved and the attempt had the backing of a Western state, the communique said, without naming that country.

It gave no further details about what happened and did not put forward any evidence, but said arrests had been made.

The military source told AFP on Tuesday that around 12 people had been detained.

READ MORE: Mali cuts defence ties with France over security 'violations'

Militancy and rift with France

One of the poorest and most volatile countries in the world, Mali is battling a decade-old militant revolt that began with a regional insurrection and then spread to Niger and Burkina Faso.

Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

Anger at the government's failure to roll back the threat led to protests in 2020, culminating in the ouster of the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The country's relationship with France – the former colonial ruler and its closest ally in the fight against the militants – last year went on a downward spiral.

French troops are pulling out of Mali after the junta wove close ties with Russia, bringing in military support that France says are Russian mercenaries.

READ MORE: Mali withdraws from regional G5 Sahel force

Source: AFP