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Cablegate: Travel Alert - Mali

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 129774

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PTER ASEC ML
SUBJECT: TRAVEL ALERT - MALI

1. This Travel Alert is being issued to warn U.S.
citizens of security concerns in Mali. This replaces the
Travel Alert for Mali issued on February 12, 2008,
expires on March 31, 2009, updates information on
security incidents and areas of concern, including
Essakane, and strongly urges U.S. citizens against travel
to northern Mali.

2. Due to recent armed conflicts, kidnappings, armed
robberies, and the continued presence of Al-Qaeda in the
Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Department of
State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to
northern Mali. AQIM has been designated as a terrorist
organization by the United States. The presence of AQIM
and Tuareg rebel groups in northern Mali presents serious
potential dangers to travelers.

3. Areas of particular concern include the Mali-Niger and
Mali-Algeria borders, the Kidal region, and areas north
of Timbuktu. This includes Essakane, site of Timbuktu's
Festival in the Desert scheduled for January 8-10, 2009.
American citizens who must travel to any of these areas
despite this Travel Alert should remain vigilant at all
times, exercise extreme caution, and avoid large
gatherings.

4. U.S. government employees, including those on
temporary duty, must have special permission to travel to
Timbuktu, Essakane, Menaka, and towns in the region of
Kidal. Individuals traveling north of Timbuktu or to the
region of Kidal often travel with Malian military
escorts. However, an August 2007 attack by Tuareg rebels
on a convoy escorted by Malian military personnel
illustrates that this does not ensure safety.

5. While the government of Mali is working to strengthen
security in northern Mali and to achieve a peaceful
settlement with Tuareg rebels, the area remains unstable.
On October 31, 2008, in northern Mali, AQIM freed two
Austrian tourists kidnapped in Tunisia eight months
earlier. On October 16, 2008, bandits in the Kidal
region of Mali carjacked two vehicles belonging to the
International Committee for the Red Cross. Disparate
Tuareg rebel groups attacked Malian military units in
Tessalit in July 2008, in Abeibara in May 2008, and in
Tinzawaten and Bourghessa in March 2008. On January 3,
2008, four Italians were robbed at gunpoint near
Araouane, Mali, 150 miles north of Timbuktu by assailants
whose affiliation remains unknown.

6. In September 2007, armed rebels attacked the Malian
military garrison at Tinzawaten. On August 30, 2007, a
truck transporting civilians from Algeria to Tinzawaten,
Mali, hit a landmine, killing at least 14 people. On
August 26-27, 2007, Tuareg dissidents attacked and
kidnapped civilian and military convoys near the Mali-
Niger border.

7. Americans planning travel to the northern regions of
Mali despite this Travel Alert, including those planning
to attend music festivals such as the Festival in the
Desert in Essakane or the Sahara Nights Festival at
Essouk, as well as Americans residing or traveling in
Mali, are urged to register with the Department of State
or the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel
registration website,
https://travelregistration.state.gov. By registering,
American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to
contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is
located at ACI 2000 at Rue 243, Porte 297. The Embassy's
mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali. The telephone

STATE 00129774 002 OF 002


number is (223) 2070-2300. The consular fax number is
(223) 2070-2340. The Embassy webpage is
http://mali.usembassy.gov.

8. Updated information on travel and security in Mali may
be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-
888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada,
or, for callers outside of the United States and Canada,
on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. For further
information, please consult the Country Specific
Information for Mali and the Worldwide Caution, which are
available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
website at http://travel.state.gov.

9. Minimize considered.
RICE

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