From the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Mali, including in the capital Bamako. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should be especially vigilant in places such as hotels, restaurants and places of worship. Following French/African military intervention in Mali in January 2013, there’s a high threat of retaliatory kidnap or attack against western interests, especially in areas north of Mopti, though the threat exists throughout the country. There have been a number of recent bomb attacks in Gao, Kidal, Timbuktu and In Khalil. Further attacks are likely.

In February 2017, the US Embassy in Bamako issued a warning to its citizens about the threat of terrorist attack against large gatherings, including music festivals. The Festival au Désert in Timbuktu was cancelled in January 2017 due to security concerns. Festivals in other parts of the country, such as the Festival sur le Niger in Segou, are vulnerable to attack.

As seen in Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, terrorist groups continue to mount attacks on hotels, cafes and restaurants visited by foreigners. Be especially vigilant in these places.

Methods of attack have included complex attacks by militants, kidnappings, small arms fire and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDS).

Recent attacks include:

  • 7 May 2017 – 7 Malian soldiers killed and 7 others reported wounded in an attack on a military position in the village of Almoustrat in the northwest of Mali
  • 3 May 2017 – an attack on MINUSMA Camp at Timbuktu airport killed one person and 9 UN peacekeepers were reported injured
  • 18 April 2017 – military barracks in Tagharoust located 150 km south of Timbuktu was captured by a terrorist group with an unspecified number of soldiers killed and wounded
  • 16 April 2017 – attack on MINUSMA unit near to the city of Kidal
  • 25 March 2017 – attack on army checkpoint 150 km from the city of Gao; 3 Malian soldiers reported dead and 4 wounded
  • 18 January 2017 – a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated inside a military camp in Gao, northern Mali; over 50 people, including Malian armed forces and UN contractors, were killed

In early 2017 the government of Mali joined Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania (G5 Sahel countries) in announcing an agreement to set up a joint counter-terrorism force to tackle the jihadist threat.

The threat is likely to continue as groups remain intent on demonstrating capability and increasing influence across the region. This threat has been demonstrated by the March 2017 merger of AQ-M Sahel, Ansar al-Dine and al-Murabitun into the new group ‘Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen’. The threat to western interests in the region remains. Read more about the threat from terrorism in the Sahel region.

Kidnap

There’s a high threat of kidnapping by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and other regional Islamist groups including Al Murabitun. These groups operate in the border areas of northern Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Algeria and Libya. They’re capable of travelling long distances to carry out attacks. Westerners have been kidnapped in Mali and the wider Sahel region, including in Kidal, Kayes, Timbuktu, Gao and Hombori.

The kidnap threat isn’t limited to northern Mali as AQ-M has a proven capability of travelling long distances to carry out kidnaps, including in neighbouring countries. Western nationals have been abducted in Burkina Faso from the Tambau region by armed groups in April 2015 and January 2016. Criminal gangs have previously carried out kidnapping for terrorist groups in return for financial rewards. There are several foreigners still held hostage by Islamist terrorists in north and west Africa, a number of whom were kidnapped in Mali. Victims in the region have included tourists, NGO workers and diplomats of a variety of nationalities, mainly European. These attacks have sometimes resulted in the murder of the hostage.

Kidnapping for ransom is AQ-M’s main source of finance. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

from Travel Advice Summary, which can be found at: http://ift.tt/10LAdLA

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