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Coup in Mali: Baptist family waits for calm


RICHMOND, VA (BP) — Southern Baptist workers in Mali are prayerfully waiting out the unfolding military coup that erupted in the West African nation March 22.

Rebellious factions of Mali’s army stormed the presidential palace the night before, announcing on state television the following day that they had ended President Amadou Toumani Toure’s rule, suspended the constitution and closed Mali’s borders.

Cliff and Rachel Blunt*, Southern Baptist humanitarian aid workers in Bamako, Mali’s capital, with their two young daughters, have endured the sound of nearly constant weapons fire since the coup began, but the fighting came especially close when the Blunts witnessed a group of men firing guns immediately outside the gate of their home. The Blunts’ guard suspects the men were robbing a store.

“We’ve heard a good bit of automatic weapons fire,” Cliff said in the Skype interview. “From time to time we’ll hear what sounds like an explosion.” He said the family is “following the [American] embassy’s recommendation to shelter in place, avoid unnecessary travel and lay low.”

Renegade soldiers have imposed a curfew and shut down Bamako’s airport. It ruined the travel plans of an Arkansas church volunteer team due to depart Mali. The team is part of Southern Baptists’ efforts to share Christ with villages in Mali’s bush, which is where the team will remain for now.