Tear gas fired in Bamako as influential Malian imam returns
The clash has drawn interest over signs of possible tensions as the military moves to monopolise its power.
Supporters of imam Mahmoud Dicko turned up to welcome him on Saturday at Bamako airport as he returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia.
Tear gas was fired at the procession accompanying him home, footage shared on social media showed.
Allahou Akbar !— KONATE Malick (@konate90) January 14, 2023
Le cortège du Cheickh Imam Mahmoud Dicko, de retour de la Mecque, a été gazé par les forces de l’ordre sur la route de l’aéroport.
Si je ne me trompe pas, on a vu des cortèges / caravanes des artistes ici qui ont été accueillis.#Bèki_Takè pic.twitter.com/NxK7l917H2
The supporters blamed security forces but no official explanation has so far been given.
Dicko played down the incident and said he "regretted" what had happened in a video released on Saturday.
But on Sunday Dicko's movement of followers CMAS condemned the "aggression".
"Nothing can justify this act by the security services against Muslim worshippers who had come out to glorify Islam", it said, calling for an investigation.
Dicko, a Saudi-trained imam, was viewed as the figurehead of the wave of protests in 2020 against president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, which culminated in his ouster in a military coup.
Since then he has openly expressed his disagreements with the junta.