Mali's parliamentary elections, which takes place amid an upsurge in violence by rebels, mark the country's steps to recovery after a coup last year.
A Malian arrested after a French police officer was shot at in Bamako "hates white people", sources close to the investigation told AFP on Saturday.
Shots have been fired on northern Mali's largest city of Gao less than a week before Malians vote in the legislative elections, say security sources.
Two journalists with Radio France Internationale (RFI) were found dead on Saturday after being kidnapped by armed men while working in Mali.
The interlinked fortunes of the countries in the sparely populated Sahara region have played a complex role in the causes of Mali's conflict.
The ongoing volatility in the region has left citizens terrified after a year under jihadist rule.
According to officials and residents in the area, there are at least 20 dead and many more missing after a boat accident in Mali.
France is likely to welcome a more robust South African military presence on the continent.
Insurgents have launched a fresh attack against the Malian army in Kidal, forcing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to cut his France trip short.
Besides its own challenges, the region must address the economic and trafficking problems.
The UN is being dragged into a mission in Mali likely to involve state-building as much as peacekeeping.
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, an ex-prime minister with a reputation for firmness, has won Mali's presidential election.
Sources say Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has surged ahead of Soumaila Cissé after two thirds of votes in Mali's second round of elections were counted.
On Sunday Malians will vote for a second time to decide who should lead the country out of turmoil.
Mali's presidential election will go to a second round on August 11 after no candidate has managed to secure a majority in the crunch poll.
Mali's presidential election will go to a second round on August 11, after no candidate secured a majority in the landmark poll.
Early indications have revealed a record turnout in much of the country as Mali's voters choose their new leader.
Keen to hand over its military role in Mali to the United Nations, France doggedly insisted that polls be held this month in the traumatised nation.
Mali on Saturday lifted a state of emergency to allow campaigning to begin for the first round of presidential elections scheduled for July 28.