WASHINGTON: The United States has ordered non-emergency personnel and their families to leave Mali due to a heightened risk of attacks, the State Department said.

The US did not mention a specific threat to its employees, but said there was an increased danger of violence affecting Westerners in a country that has been plagued by jihadist attacks for years.

“On July 29, 2022, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency US government employees and family members due to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks in areas frequented by Westerners,” the

State Department said in an updated travel advisory on Mali.

“Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting kidnappings and attacks in Mali,” the advisory said, warning of attacks on places including “night clubs, hotels, restaurants, places of worship (and) international diplomatic missions.”

Jihadists first struck the north of Mali in 2012, joining a regional insurgency.

After being scattered the following year by French forces, they regrouped, in 2015 launching attacks in the ethnically volatile center and cross-border raids on Niger and Burkina Faso.

Earlier this month, Mali’s army said it had thwarted a new attack on a military camp in the center of the country, just days after a deadly suicide attack in a strategic garrison town near the capital.

It was the first time since 2012 that such coordinated attacks had taken place so close to Bamako.

Mali has been run by a military junta since August 2020, when colonels angered at failures to roll back the jihadists toppled the country’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2022

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