Mali’s army repelled an attack on its advance positions on Monday by heavily armed Islamist groups who control the country’s north, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
Islamist fighters who seized control of Mali’s vast desert north in April have advanced towards government positions in the region of Mopti in recent days, sowing fears of a return to fighting after months of uneasy stalemate.
"The armed forces have driven off this attempted attack," said the ministry statement, read out on Malian radio and television.
Meanwhile, African Union on Tuesday called for a global coalition that includes NATO to intervene against Islamist rebels in northern Mali.
The head of the African Union, Benin President Boni Yayi,said, "My understanding is that in reality when we talk of an international force it’s not just (West African regional group) ECOWAS, it’s not just the AU, it’s also other forces from outside the African continent, given the seriousness of the situation."
Yayi was addressing a news conference in Ottawa, Canada.