Protests in Mali’s capital against the arrest of a popular activist radio host have turned violent, leaving at least three people dead and several injured.
Bathily, who is known as Ras Bath, presents a show called Cards on the Table on Maliba FM radio, in which he often attacks policies of the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. Fresh protests are expected on Thursday, witnesses said.
“Our organizations condemn the excessive use of lethal arms to maintain order and call on the authorities to identify and punish those responsible,” said a statement from three rights groups including the Malian Association of Human Rights.
Police also fired tear gas to disperse the fans of Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, who was arrested on Monday and is due to be brought before a tribunal charged with an outrage against public decency, witnesses said.
These are the first major protests in Bamako since a military coup in 2012.
Dozens took to the streets in Hamdallaye neighborhood Wednesday in support of radio personality Ras Bath.
Activist Yelimady Konate says protesters knocked down the door of the courtroom where Bath was having his hearing. He says Bath was arrested Monday before hosting a radio talk show discussing Mali’s army.
Protester Mama Camara says he saw three dead and several hurt at a clinic where he was looking for friends.
A doctor there, Makan Diakite, says some people had been hit by bullets.