UN investigates shooting on protesters in Mali

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The U.N. peacekeeping chief said Friday his department is investigating what appears to be the shooting of protesters by Malian soldiers.

One of the three people wounded in the shooting died over the weekend, Herve Ladsous told reporters.

If proven beyond a doubt that Malian soldiers did shoot, that is "absolutely unacceptable," Ladsous said.

Residents of the troubled northern city of Kidal have said soldiers fired on a demonstration at the local airfield Nov. 28. The demonstrators had gathered to protest the arrival of Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly on an official visit. The residents said five people were hurt.

Ladsous said U.N. police and French troops had ordered the crowd to disperse.

A Malian army commander last month disputed residents' accounts of the shooting. "We began to shoot in the air to clear the protesters, and then we returned to camp," Mamary Camara said. "The women who were injured were certainly injured by the protesters, not by us."

Kidal remains one of the most troubled areas in northern Mali after rebels, including Islamic extremists aligned with al-Qaida, took over the region following a March 2012 military coup. France launched a military intervention in January to drive them out, but Tuareg separatists have maintained a strong presence in the city.

On Nov. 2, two journalists from Radio France Internationale were killed while reporting in Kidal.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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