UNITED NATIONS, March 23 (UPI) -- With transition looming in Mali, the U.N. Security Council condemned the reported government take over at the hands of rebel troops.
Military officers stormed the presidential palace Wednesday and announced they overthrew what they called Amadou Toumani Toure's "incompetent government." The coup came weeks before presidential elections. Toure said he wouldn't seek a third term in office.
The leader of the coup, Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, said on state TV that a curfew was in place and he called for an end to widespread looting.
Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington stood by the "legitimately elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure."
The U.N. Security Council condemned the "forcible seizure of power."
Toure's administration had struggled to quell a growing Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.
Aid group Doctors Without Borders in early February stopped working in Mali after fighting erupted between Tuareg rebels and government forces. The United Nations said the conflict violated terms of a 2009 cease-fire.
Tuareg rebels fought alongside fighters loyal to former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and the simmering conflict rekindled ethnic tensions between northern and southern Malians.
The International Committee of the Red Cross had warned of an impending crisis in Mali and, last week, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for the West African country.