Jennifer Bowers, an American living in Mali, was on a bus to Bamako when they were stopped and informed that there were protests in the city.
What we were told was that demonstrations were literally gun battles in the streets, she said.
Bowers and her companions spent the night in a town one hour outside of Bamako, making phone calls to the U.S. embassy and waiting for news. At 4:25 am, they received word that the coup d'état had succeeded.
The military has seized control of the presidential palace and the airport, Bowers said. She confirmed that the soldiers are angry at the way the government has handled the Tuareg war in the North. Tuareg soldiers came back from fighting for Muammar Gaddafi in Libya with better weapons than the Malian army, Bowers explained, and the military is suffering crippling losses from their lack of resources.
A month ago there were demonstrations with military families, who were upset at how many people were being killed, she said.
Soldiers took over the state television station early Thursday morning, claiming that they had overthrown the government. Recent reports say that renegade soldiers have looted the presidential palace and are calling for calm. The BBC reported that President Amadou Toumani Toure is safe, and that the attempted coup has been condemned by international bodies.
Tunisair flights to Mali have been suspended while the airlines monitors the situation. Tunisian media source TAP reported today that the Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that they are concerned about the safety and security in Mali, but that Tunisians in the area are safe and sound and in constant contact with Tunisia's Embassy in Bamako.