The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated the travel warning for Mali, underlining the terror threat in Bamako. The new advice states that ‘terrorists are very like to try to carry out attacks in Mali,’ and that people should remain vigilant when in ‘hotels, cafes and restaurants visited by foreigners.’

If you are in or planning travel to Mali, make sure you have factored potential terror attacks and kidnap threat in to your travel risk management plan. If you are being sent to Mali for work, your company should have provided you with up to date security briefings and adequate training. If you do not feel prepared for your trip, talk to your boss as soon as possible.

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, places of worship and businesses with western interests. Be aware that there may be a heightened risk of attack during the presidential election period in August and early September. You should always avoid areas where public marches and demonstrations are taking place.

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:

  • 12 November 2018 – a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated in close proximity to a residential area in the city of Gao, killing 3 people
  • 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.

from Travel Advice Summary, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mali

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