"The soldiers are saying that they no longer have an intermediary now that Kouyate is gone," Sekou Toure, a witness who lives near the Alpha Yaya Diallo camp, said.


Witnesses said the mutinous troops fired gunshots into the air, terrifying local residents.


General Sampil was captured when he tried to negotiate with the soldiers over their demands for the payment of back pay promised by the outgoing government.


"General Sampil went down there to try to convince the soldiers to stop firing in the air in protest. The young troops took him ... they even stripped off his rank badges," a junior officer said.


Another military source said General Mamadou Bailo Diallo, the defence minister, had also tried to reason with the protesting soldiers but was chased off by a hail of stones.


Conte later met his his ministers and top military officers at the presidential palace.


The four hour session concluded with Conte calling for calm on the streets and asking soldiers to open dialogue and negotiations.