The international community is also worried that al Qaeda's North African wing is expanding into Mali.
U.S. officials have said that the wing, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, is linked to the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others.
Tuareg rebels have retreated from the well-armed militants, but have vowed to fight back and establish their own country in the North, which they call Azawad.
West African states and international leaders say a rapid military intervention is essential to solving the security crisis.
When soldiers seized the capital in March, the regional and international powers put pressure on them to restore democratic rule.
Sanogo conceded and transferred power in April to Dioncounda Traore, after he was put forward by ECOWAS. Traore appointed Diarra as interim prime minister.
Traore fled to a Paris hotel after being beaten unconscious in a May 21 attack that occurred in the presidential palace.
Diarra took over the country's leadership until Traore returned.
As the world seeks a solution to the crisis, the Islamist militants are busy applying their strict interpretation of Sharia law, including the banning of music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television.
They also publicly stoned a couple to death in July for reportedly having an affair.
Public executions, amputations, floggings and other inhumane punishments are becoming common, the United Nations says.
At least four times this year, the militants have attacked Timbuktu's historic tombs and shrines, claiming the relics are idolatrous. The picturesque city was once an important destination for Islamic scholars for its ancient and prominent burial sites and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.