Mali Junta leader Goita arrives for final referendum campaign rally / Photo: Reuters

Mali's ruling junta has cancelled celebrations planned for next week to mark the anniversary of the country's independence, the council of ministers said, following a resumption of hostilities in the north.

The council of ministers also discussed the possible mobilisation of reservists, they said late on Wednesday.

Following the decision, taken by junta leader Assimi Goita, to cancel the festivities, the anniversary will be "celebrated in sobriety and in the spirit of national revival", the council said in a statement.

Goita ordered the government to allocate the funds planned for the festivities to help the victims of a series of recent attacks and their families, it said.

Mali, which was in 2012 plunged into turmoil due to violence by armed groups, has this week seen a resumption of hostilities.

On Tuesday, army positions in the garrison town of Bourem were attacked with the army saying it had repelled the attack. Dozens of deaths were reported.

The renewed military activity allegedly by the Tuareg separatists has coincided with a succession of attacks attributed mainly to the Al-Qaeda-linked group, GSIM.

It also coincides with the ongoing withdrawal of the UN stabilisation mission MINUSMA, which is being pushed out by the junta after 10 years of deployment.

Several recent attacks claimed by GSIM have killed a number of soldiers, including in the town of Bamba on September 7 and the city of Gao on September 8.

An attack on a passenger boat on the Niger River, blamed on militants, left dozens of civilians dead last week.

Goita expressed his "deep distress" at the losses caused by "the savage and barbaric attack against the boat (and) the assaults on the camps in the towns of Bamba, Gao and Bourem", the council of ministers said.

It was his first public remarks on the boat attack. Mali, a former French colony, became an independent republic on September 22, 1960.