Ousmane Cisse, a resident of Sevare, a town near Mopti, said he saw wounded people arrive at a local hospital.
‘‘In the morning I was in front of the hospital and I saw two ambulances transporting the wounded who came from the site of the fighting, but I couldn’t tell you how many there were,’’ he said.
The retreat by the Malian military is sure to raise questions about its ability to help lead a regional intervention.
Late last year, the 15 nations in West Africa, including Mali, agreed on a proposal for the military to take back the north, and sought backing from the United Nations.
The U.N. Security Council has authorized the intervention but imposed certain conditions, including training Mali’s military, which has been accused of serious human rights abuses since the coup.
Nesirky, the U.N. spokesman, said the world body is supporting mediation efforts by the West African regional group ECOWAS and looks forward to the resumption of negotiations, scheduled for Jan. 21.
He said U.N. special envoy Said Djinnit is in Mali promoting negotiations, a national dialogue and development of a roadmap for transition, and U.N. envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, was also in Bamako on Thursday.
Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press writers Rukmini Callimachi and Edith M. Lederer also contributed to this report.
Baba Ahmed can be reached at www.twitter.com/Babahmed1