Mali Coup Leaders Seized Power Days After Returning From Military Training Camp in Russia

The two militants who led the coup in Mali spent most of the year training in Russia, they returned to West Africa days before overthrowing the president.

ABUJA, Nigeria—The leaders of the coup that ousted Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita spent most of the year training in Russia before returning to boot out the democratically-elected leader at gunpoint, according to sources in the Malian military.

The rebels took control of Mali’s largest military base in Kati, just outside the capital, Bamako, on Tuesday before storming Keita’s official residence, seizing the president and forcing him to resign as leader of the West African nation.

Numerous media outlets, including the BBC, immediately reported that the coup was led by Malick Diaw and Sadio Camara, two army colonels who hold top positions at the Kati military base and who are reportedly very close friends. But there’s something else both men have in common— they were trained by the military in Russia.

Two Malian military officials told The Daily Beast that both Diaw and Camara were in Russia before they returned to Mali to stage Tuesday’s coup, confirming a local media report. The two officers are said to have departed Bamako for Moscow early in the year to attend military training sponsored by the Russian armed forces, they returned a little over a week before the coup was executed.

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