Thousands of people marched in Mali's capital calling for peace in the north, as a resident in the town of Dire reported an attack by Tuareg rebels.

Souleymane Amadou, a teacher, said Saturday that fighters from the Coordination of Azawad Movements, a coalition of autonomy minded groups including ethnic Arabs and Tuaregs, surprised residents and Malian soldiers there. Dire is 135 kilometers (84 miles) west of Timbuktu.

An official with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali confirmed the attack, speaking on condition of anonymity because he didn't have permission to speak to the press.

The violence that resurged this week has killed at least 19 people and threatens a peace accord meant to be signed in Bamako on May 15.