Mutinous soldiers who seized power last week from Mali's president Amadou Toumani Touré also occupied the headquarters of the state radio and TV broadcaster and interrupted other TV and radio shows, say Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Human Rights Watch. Some citizens turned to Twitter to get their news updates, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
According to RSF, soldiers stormed into state broadcaster ORTM on 21 March, firing into the air and forcing all personnel to leave. Broadcasting by all privately-owned radio stations in the capital, Bamako, was suspended for at least a day, says RSF. In its place, soldiers repeatedly aired a communiqué announcing a nationwide curfew and the suspension of the constitution and state institutions.
"Whether this is a real coup or just a mutiny, we are appalled that soldiers have occupied the state broadcaster and taken control of its broadcasts," RSF said. "As is often the case in such circumstances, control of news and information is primordial and the media are among the mutineers' first targets."
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