In Mali, Tuareg rebels have reportedly captured a number of towns in the north of the country, including the key strategic cities of Kidal and Menaka after army units abandoned their posts.
Separatists confirmed several government troops had been killed in the heavy fighting.
The latest wave of violence has prompted fears Mail’s desert North could once again be plunged back into war and follows days of deadly clashes in the region.
The UN, and France which has forces based in Mali, called for an immediate ceasefire.
Fighting broke out on Saturday when Mali’s Prime Minister Moussa Mara visited Kidal to show support for government forces based there.
Civilian rule was re-established in Mali in 2013 after French forces intervened, but Islamist and separatist forces remain active.