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Mali leader in hospital after protesters attack presidential palace

Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, has been hospitalized with a head wound following an attack by demonstrators who stormed his palace on Monday, Reuters and Al Jazeera reported.

Habibou Kouyate / AFP - Getty Images file

A picture taken on April 12, 2012 shows Dioncounda Traore, the new interim leader of Mali, standing before the independence monument in Bamako following his swearing in ceremony.

Protesters entered the compound unopposed and tore up pictures of Traore. Some of the demonstrators attacked the caretaker president, knocking him unconscious, according to Al Jazeera.

"He (Traore) has just been rushed to hospital ... They beat him seriously and tore his clothes," Bakary Mariko, spokesman for the CNRDRE body of soldiers who last month agreed to allow a transition back to civilian rule, told Reuters by telephone.

Mali coup leaders threatened with new sanctions

Mid-ranking army officers seized power in March in protest at the government's failure to end a Tuareg-led rebellion in the north, but the coup backfired and triggered a lightning advance by rebels who now control two-thirds of the country.

Traore's stint in charge has been overshadowed by the military maintaining its grip on much of day-to-day power in the country.

Junta chief Capt. Amadou Sanogo agreed this weekend to allow Traore to remain in charge but crowds took to the streets on Monday calling for him to quit.

"There is no question of Dioncounda staying as president of Mali," said Daouda Diallo, one demonstrator amongst the group that marched up the hill to the presidential palace.

Demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to the 15-state West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which had threatened sanctions unless Traore is allowed to remain in charge.

"Sources in the hospital told me Traore had head injuries, it is likely he had head injuries," Martin Vogl, a journalist based in Mali told Al Jazeera.

"What will be interesting to see if the president will go back to his job, and what will the junta leaders now do," said Vogl.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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