, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – Kenya Airways was on Wednesday forced to divert its flight just 30 minutes before it landed in the troubled Malian capital of Mali.
KQ Managing Director Titus Naikuni said flight 513 from Dakar, Senegal was diverted to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
He said in a statement that the 60 passengers on board as well as the KQ staff in Bamako were safe.
Naikuni further said he had communicated with Foreign Affairs Minister, Moses Wetangula, who is now stranded in Bamako after mutinous soldiers blocked the presidential palace demanding to be better armed to fight a Tuareg insurgency in the north of the country.
“The minister confirmed that he was safe together with his Personal Assistant, Boniface Munzola, Gilbert Ng’eno from Foreign Affairs in Addis Ababa and Anthony Safari from Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nairobi,” said the KQ statement.
Naikuni said Kenya Airways would do its best to try and get the passengers who are in Mali out of the situation.
The renegade Mali soldiers said on Thursday they had seized the presidential palace and arrested several ministers after a gunbattle, in an apparent coup bid in the west African nation.
“We are in control of the presidential palace,” one of the rebels told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Another fighter said Foreign Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and Interior Minister Kafouhouna Kone were among those held by the officers.
Meanwhile an independent source said President Amadou Toumani Toure, earlier holed up in the palace as shots were traded outside, had managed to leave the premises.
A mutiny over the way government is handling a Tuareg insurrection in the north began Wednesday afternoon and turned into an apparent coup attempt as soldiers seized the government broadcaster and attacked the presidential palace.
After an hours-long media blackout, a message flashed on television promising “a declaration from soldiers in an instant” from just before midnight while music videos played in the background.