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UN Chief Following Mali Events With 'Deep Concern'

Malian soldiers gather on a street of Bamako on March 21, 2012.
Malian soldiers gather on a street of Bamako on March 21, 2012.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is following the unrest in Mali with "deep concern" after mutinous soldiers were reported to be firing weapons outside the presidential palace.

The U.S. embassy in the capital, Bamako, has also announced it is monitoring the situation closely. It advised U.S. citizens to stay indoors.

Reports from Mali said tensions grew throughout Wednesday after troops launched a protest against the government's handling of a rebellion.

State radio and television went off the air for several hours after soldiers stormed the state broadcaster.

The soldiers are demanding better weapons to fight ethnic Tuareg rebels who have seized several towns in Mali's remote northern desert region.

The unrest began at the Kati military camp in a suburb of Bamako. Soldiers fired their guns into the air after a meeting with Mali's defense minister that apparently went badly. At least two soldiers were wounded during the protest.

Wives and mothers of the soldiers held a separate protest in Bamako last month, also demanding that the soldiers get better weapons to fight the rebels.

Tuareg fighters began their rebellion in January, after many Tuareg fighters returned from Libya, where they had assisted ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Tuareg nomads have launched periodic uprisings for greater autonomy in both Mali and Niger.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.