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Cablegate: Travel Warning: Mali

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INFO RUESBKC/ATO ASIA IMMEDIATE 1981

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 119774

SIPDIS

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

STATE 00119774 001.2 OF 002


1. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the
risks of travel to Mali and continues to recommend
against all travel to the north of the country due to
kidnapping threats against Westerners. This replaces the
Travel Warning for Mali dated August 31, 2009, to update
security and threat information.

2. As noted in the Department of State's Worldwide
Caution, dated July 29, 2009, the Islamic extremist group
Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has
been designated as a terrorist organization by both the
United States and the European Union. AQIM has declared
its intention to attack Western targets throughout the
Sahel (including Mali, Mauritania, and Niger), and has
claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two Canadian
United Nations officials in Niger in December 2008, the
kidnapping of four European tourists in January 2009 on
the Mali-Niger border, the murder of a British hostage in
Mali in June 2009, the murder of a U.S. citizen in
Mauritania in June 2009, and the suicide-bombing of the
French Embassy in Mauritania on August 8, 2009. On
November 14, 2009, heavily armed individuals attempted to
kidnap U.S. Embassy employees in Tahoua, Niger.

3. In addition to threats posed by AQIM and potential
hostage takers, confrontations between the Malian
military and Tuareg rebel groups occurred in Nampala
(along Mali's border with Mauritania) in December 2008
and in the region of Kidal in January 2009. The threat
posed by AQIM, continued Tuareg unrest, sporadic
banditry, and the porous nature of Mali's northern
borders with Algeria, Niger, and Mauritania all reinforce
longstanding security concerns affecting travel to
northern Mali.

4. The Department of State notes that the U.S. Embassy
in Bamako has designated the northern regions of Mali as
"restricted without prior authorization" for purposes of
travel by U.S. government employees, contractors,
grantees and their dependents. Prior to traveling to
these areas U.S. government employees are required to
have the written approval of the U.S. Ambassador to
Mali. This designation is based on the presence of AQIM,
as well as Tuareg rebel activity and banditry. Though
this restriction does not apply to private U.S. citizens,
it should be taken into account by all Americans
contemplating travel to Mali. The restriction is in
effect for the following areas:

-The region of Kidal;
-The region of Gao including the road to Ansongo and
the border with Niger;
-The region of Timbuktu.

5. U.S. citizens are specifically reminded that the
restricted areas include Essakane, site of the popular
"Festival au Desert" musical event, as well as many other
musical and cultural festivals in the regions of Kidal
and Gao that are traditionally held between December and
February. It should be noted that in addition to the
potential terrorist and criminal threats, these
celebrations are located in some of the most remote
destinations on earth and the Embassy would have extreme
difficulty rendering assistance should an emergency occur
there.

6. All U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Mali are
urged to register with the Department of State or the
U.S. Embassy in Bamako through the State Department's
travel registration website,

STATE 00119774 002.2 OF 002


https://travelregistration.state.gov. By registering,
U.S. 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 number
is (223) 2070-2300. The consular fax number is (223)
2070-2340. The Embassy webpage is
http://mali.usembassy.gov.

7. Updated information on travel and security in Mali
may be obtained from the Department of State by calling
1-888-407-4747 toll-free within 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.

8. Minimize considered.
CLINTON

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