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A bloodless military coup has occurred in the Western Africa state of Mali, where WILD’s Mali Elephant Project is located. We are very happy to inform everyone that our field staff and associates are  in no immediate danger. Check back for more updates!

>>Learn more about the elephants of Mali

Renegade soldiers in Mali declared Thursday that they have seized power in the West African nation and dissolved public institutions because of the government’s handling of an insurgency.

Soldiers wearing fatigues said on state media that they have suspended the constitution, closed the borders and imposed a curfew in the country, which U.S. officials have previously described as “one of the strongest democracies on the continent.”

“Considering the incapacity of the regime in effectively fighting against terrorism and restoring dignity to the Malian people, using its constitutional rights, the armed forces of Mali, along with other security forces, have decided to take on their responsibilities to put an end to this incompetent regime of President Amadou Toumani Toure,” said Amadou Konare, the spokesman for the soldiers.

A 1991 military coup led by Toure ended a dictatorship in Mali. Toure became president in 2002, was re-elected in 2007 and was scheduled to step down next month.

Konare said security forces have formed the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State to work as a transitional government. He accused the government of not providing soldiers with the means to battle local Tuareg nomads, whose uprising has grown as rebels return from fighting for former Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi.

A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States, which was on a fact-finding mission on the Tuareg uprising, was caught up in the chaos in the capital Thursday. Its director said his attempts to talk to both sides had been unsuccessful.

In Mali, the Tuareg have long called for the creation of an independent state and have risen up against the Malian government a number of times since the 1960s. The latest uprising began to take root late last year but gained momentum in January, when the rebels began attacking towns in northern Mali.

>>Read the full CNN article

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