Bamako [Mali], Aug 19 (ANI): Troops in Mali have arrested the country's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a suspected coup, CNN reported.
"I strongly condemn the arrest of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the Prime Minister and other members of the Malian Government and call for their immediate release," Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union, was quoted as saying in a tweet.
The Malian military units began the mutiny earlier on Tuesday, with sources telling Sputnik that rebels had arrested a number of ministers and high-ranking officers, with the mutiny thought to be related to servicemen's financial grievances.
Sputnik cited local media as reporting that four military officials were responsible for organising the mutiny. The government have issued a statement signed by Maiga calling for dialogue with the mutineers.
Eyewitnesses told Sputnik that civilians have also taken to the streets of Bamako amid a lack of a security presence, with gunfire occasionally heard, and rebel soldiers firing shots in the direction of the president's residence. Mali state broadcaster ORTM has gone offline since the incident.
"Mass demonstrations [are taking place] in the capital of Bamako amid a lack of security agencies. Demonstrators demand President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's resignation. Rebel soldiers are walking in the streets, greeting crowds of demonstrators on Independence Square in the downtown," Sputnik quoted a local as saying.
A Russian foreign ministry source told Sputnik that Moscow was 'closely following events', and checking on reports that rebels had arrested the president.
Meanwhile, spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the UN chief is following the situation "very closely."
"The Secretary-General calls on all Malians to preserve the integrity of the country's democratic institutions, and we affirm that together with ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States], the African Union, the European Union and other partners, the United Nations will continue to accompany Malians in their efforts to consolidate peace and democracy," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
According to CNN, on Tuesday, crowds took to the streets in Bamako, surrounding the capital city's independence monument. A building owned by Mali's Minister of Justice was set on fire and looted.
The unrest in Mali's capital followed reports of an attempted mutiny Tuesday morning at a military camp 15 km outside of the city, confirmed to CNN by a diplomatic source who had been briefed by local officials.
CNN further said that the attempted mutiny took place in Kati, at the same camp that a successful military coup was launched back in 2012.
President Keita has been facing growing public discontent since May, after the country's top constitutional court overturned results from disputed parliamentary elections. (ANI)