Soldiers in Mali have taken up arms and started arresting senior military officers in an apparent mutiny in the town of Kati.
The development comes after more than two months of political demonstrations calling for president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s resignation.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the unrest, but the developments prompted government workers in the nearby capital of Bamako to evacuate as soldiers began detaining officials.
“Arrests are being made of officials. It’s total confusion,” said an officer at Mali’s Ministry of Internal Security.
Witnesses said armoured tanks and military vehicles could be seen on the streets of Kati, located less than 10 miles from the capital.
The French Embassy in Bamako tweeted that residents of Kati and Bamako should stay indoors amid the situation.
On March 21 2012, a mutiny erupted at the Kati military camp as soldiers began rioting and then broke into the camp’s armoury.
After grabbing weapons and under the leadership of then Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, they headed for the seat of government.
Captain Sanogo was later forced to hand over power to a civilian transitional government that then organised elections, won by Mr Keita, who has faced mounting pressure to step down.
Regional mediators have urged him to share power in a unity government but those overtures were swiftly rejected by opposition leaders, who said they would not stop short of Mr Keita’s removal.
The current president has faced growing criticism of how his government has handled the Islamic insurgency engulfing the country.
The military faced a wave of deadly attacks in the north last year, prompting the government to close its most vulnerable outposts as part of a reorganisation aimed at stemming the losses.