BAMAKO - The soldiers who staged a coup in Mali in March said they had defeated a counter-coup by foreign-backed forces loyal to the ousted president in fighting that left 14 people dead.
They called the attack by paratroopers an attempt at a targeted killing of coup leader Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, but insisted that the turmoil would not affect the rule by an interim civilian government.
Sanogo, who led the March 22 uprising that ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure, in a TV interview pledged that the transitional deal he agreed to on April 6 restoring civilian rule remained in force.
The resurgence of fighting however dimmed hopes for a quick return to order in the west African country where the turmoil has allowed Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants to seize the northern half of the country.
Gunfire erupted late Monday at the national television and radio station, the airport and at Kati, the garrison town near the capital that is the headquarters of the rebel soldiers.
By Tuesday morning, armoured vehicles were seen outside the key sites, and the junta leaders said on national TV they had restored order, though sporadic gunfire could be heard in the city.
A soldier reading out a message on television on behalf of Sanogo said "foreign elements backed by dark forces from inside the country carried out these attacks", adding that some had been arrested.