United Nations: The UN Security Council has condemned the coup in Mali and "immediately" restore the legal government.

Security Council members "strongly condemn the forcible seizure of power from the democratically-elected government of Mali by some elements of the Malian armed forces," said a council statement.

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."

The council demanded "the release of all detained Malian officials" and the "immediate restoration of constitutional rule and the democratically elected government," said the statement read to reporters by Britain's UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the council president for March.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also condemned the coup and called on its leaders "to refrain from any actions that could increase violence and further destabilize the country."

(Agencies)