Mali has a history of unrest. Here is a look at incidents that have taken place in the country since January 2012 in the light of the hostage situation in the capital, Bamako, yesterday.
Jan 17: Tuareg fighters from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and other rebels launch an offensive to seize several northern towns.
March 22: Mutinous Malian soldiers led by Captain Amadou Sanogo announce they have overthrown the Bamako government, saying it has failed to give the armed forces the means to defeat the rebellion.
March 30-April 1: Tuareg and Islamist rebels allied to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) capture capitals of the three northern regions: Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. Several armed groups take part in the offensive alongside the Tuareg MNLA, including the Islamist Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith), Al-Qaeda offshoot Mujao (the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa), and members of AQIM. The Tuareg are quickly ousted by the Islamists, who dominate the northern region.
Jan 11: The French military launch Operation Serval to back the Malian army and drive back the Islamists, who are pushing south towards Bamako. From Jan 14, Islamists flee the northern cities after France carries out bombings and commits ground troops.
Jan 26-30: French-led troops recapture Gao and Timbuktu. They also retake control of Kidal airport. The city is secured by some 1,800 Chadian troops who arrive several days later.
May 21: MNLA militants claim control of Kidal and other northern towns after fighting with the army that kills several Malian soldiers. On May 24, the Mali government signs a ceasefire deal with three rebel groups, including the Tuareg.
July 13: Operation Serval is replaced by Operation Barkhane, a broader offensive against Islamist fighters that mobilises 3,000 French troops in five North African countries from early August.
March 7: An attack on a bar and restaurant in the heart of Bamako, the first targeting Westerners, leaves five dead - three Malians, one French national and a Belgian. July 2: Militants kill six United Nations soldiers from Burkina Faso in an ambush south-west of Timbuktu on the road to Goundam. The UN force, Minusma, is charged with overseeing a peace accord signed on May 15 by the government, and on June 20 by Tuareg-led rebels.
Aug 3: Around 10 soldiers are killed in an attack on their camp in the Timbuktu region, an assault claimed by AQIM.
Aug 7: A total of 13 people die in a hostage siege at a hotel in central Mali that ends after government troops storm the building.
Nov 20: Malian security forces storm the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako after gunmen seize 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking that has left at least three people dead.