I was near the area when I heard a deafening commotion. There were around a hundred people jostling to see what was going on. A passer-by told me there was a suspicious meeting of Islamists and they were being turned in to police. I decided to film what was happening to show my friends.
Some people started to shout [in Bambara, the national language of Mali] that the men should be executed. Others wanted to attack them but the police told everyone to keep calm [Editor’s note: according to the police officer contacted, in Bamako, police are in the practice of detaining all people who are accused of wrongdoing, allowing the police to either prevent mob justice if the person is innocent, or, of course, stop the person if they are not].
“We are scared the Islamists may already be scouting out Bamako”
The people we saw resembled Islamists: they had a look that we associate here with Mauritanians [Editor’s note: the police spoke of a ‘Pakistani’ look]. Their clothing was loose, they wore scarves on their heard and had long beards. The locals panicked because the men had never been seen in the area and they looked out of place. People immediately linked them with Islamist groups who are running rampant in the north.
People here are very scared and have been on edge ever since a state of emergency was declared [when it was announced on January 12, the interim president, Dioncounda Traoré, called for the “general mobilisation” of Malians]. They also try to work with the police to turn in anyone acting abnormally, for example anyone who stays on the phone for too long speaking in a language other than Bambara or French. We are scared the Islamists may already be scouting out Bamako and are mixing with the locals in order to send back information to their chief.