International condemnation of a coup by Malian soldiers is mounting after rebel troops seized key buildings in the capital and drove the president from his official residence.
The soldiers – who call themselves the National Committee for the Establishment of Democracy – said they had acted because of the government's "inability" to put down a Tuareg-led insurrection in the north.
President Amadou Toumani Toure was initially holed up in the presidential palace as shots were traded outside, but managed to flee the premises.
A military source said he had since moved to a military camp with loyal members of an elite paratrooper unit.
As sporadic gunfire rang out in the capital on Thursday, Western powers and the African Union condemned the mutiny, Mali's first coup in 21 years.
A statement from the UN Security Council said its members "strongly condemn the forcible seizure of power from the democratically elected government of Mali by some elements of the Malian armed forces".
The 15-nation body called on the rebels "to ensure the safety and security of President Amadou Toumani Toure and to return to their barracks".
France suspended co-operation with its former colony, also calling on the mutinous soldiers not to harm Toure.
And Washington, which has repeatedly voiced fears that parts of Mali and neighbouring countries are becoming a safe haven for jihadi extremists, called "for the immediate restoration of constitutional rule".
Junta spokesman Lieutenant Amadou Konare said the takeover was because of a "lack of adequate (military) material to defend the nation".
Claiming to speak for the army, he said the junta "solemnly commits to restore power to a democratically elected president as soon as national unity and territorial integrity are re-established".
The man presented as their leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, declared a national curfew as the rebels announced all borders had been closed until further notice.
Konare appeared on public television late on Thursday and said the curfew would be in place from 1800 GMT to 0600 GMT.
The coup leaders also ordered all civil servants back to work from next Tuesday.
Renegade soldiers in the northeastern city of Gao detained their military chiefs in support of the coup.
In Bamako, military men were seen stealing private cars and looting.
But it remained unclear how tight the new junta's grip on power was.
"The president is in Bamako, he is not at an embassy. He is in a military camp where he is in command," a military source said on condition of anonymity.
The elite "Red Beret" paratroopers were keeping watch, he added.
Western powers – concerned that the north could become a safe haven for al-Qaeda – were quick to call for order to be restored.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced "deep concern", as did neighbouring Algeria, Bamako's main partner in the fight against al-Qaeda. Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa also condemned the coup.
The World Bank and the African Development Bank announced they were suspending development aid to Mali.
They joined the African Union and the West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS in condemning the coup and called for a swift resolution to the crisis. -- AFP