Gunshots were heard on Tuesday at the military base in Bamako with signs of a possible mutiny in the air.
Reuters reported that soldiers detained senior officers at the military base in what looks like an attempt to kick the President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita out of office.
The soldiers on Tuesday fired their guns into the air in the base in Kati, a garrison town some 15km (nine miles) from Bamako, while witnesses said armoured tanks and military vehicles could be seen on its streets, according to media reports.
Some senior government ministers and army officers were also reportedly under arrest but it was not clear by whom.
There has been an ongoing crisis in Mali with protesters thronging the streets as they call for the exit of the President.
While the current location or state of the President is unknown, reports said he had been taken to a safe location.
A French military source told Reuters news agency discussions were taking place between Mali’s army command and the mutineers.
Speaking from Bamako, journalist Mohamed Salah told Al Jazeera that the situation in Kati was “very confusing”, with reports of soldiers putting up barricades in the town and detaining officials.
“Whether he’s been arrested or not, what is certain is that his end is near. God is granting our prayers. IBK is finished,” Haidara Assetou Cisse, a teacher, told Reuters.
ECOWAS has called on the soldiers to return to their base, and stop the apparent mutiny.
“This mutiny comes at a time when, for several months now, ECOWAS has been taking initiatives and conducting mediation efforts with all the Malian parties,” the bloc said in a statement.
The French Foreign Ministry supported the appeal from ECOWAS, saying in a statement is was closely following the developments in its former colony.
Earlier, the French Embassy said: “Because of serious unrest this morning, August 18, in the city of Bamako, it is immediately recommended to remain at home”.
The Norwegian and American Embassies also advised nationals to stay at home.
🚨Security Alert– Bamako, Mali🚨
The U.S. recommends all U.S. citizens avoid Kati and the Monument de l’Independance in Bamako. All passport, visa, and other consular services at the U.S. Embassy are cancelled for the rest of the day. More info: https://t.co/x5t4jVQBiG
— U.S. Embassy Mali (@USEmbassyMali) August 18, 2020
“The embassy has been notified of a mutiny in the Armed Forces and troops are on their way to Bamako. Norwegians should exercise caution and preferably stay at home until the situation is clear.”
Malians have maintained that the President must go despite concessions by Keita. His advances to opposition leaders have been roundly rejected.
French President, Emmanuel Macron has said he will not interfere in the conflict but there are over 4000 troops behind the state, according to Al Jazeera.