Mali marks independence day amid tensions, uncertainty

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali is marking its Independence Day celebrations with a military parade featuring fighter planes. Thursday marks the first festivities since the last French troops left Malian soil in August after nine years fighting Islamic extremists. On Thursday, Malians toting flags and singing their national anthem took to the streets of Bamako in a show of patriotism. Col. Assimi Goita, who seized control of the West African country two years ago in a coup, addressed Malians on the eve of the celebrations. He said Mali wants to strengthen relations with other countries, but those nations must ]Mali’s sovereignty and “strategic choices.”