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State Department Warns U.S. Citizens Against Traveling to Mali

by Abigail Williams and Phil Helsel /

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The State Department on Tuesday warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Mali and said it's authorizing the voluntary departure of some U.S. Embassy personnel and their family members.

The advisory comes more than a week after gunmen stormed a hotel in Mali’s capital of Bamako and killed 20 people.

"The U.S. Embassy in Mali will provide only emergency consular services to U.S. citizens for the foreseeable future," the State Department said.

Related: Three Killed After Rockets Fired at U.N. in Mali

"U.S. citizens already in Mali are encouraged to review their personal safety and security plans to determine whether they should depart," the warning said.

The State Department authorized the departure of non-essential personnel and their families from the embassy in Bamako. Families of employees who must remain at their post can also choose to leave.

Northern Mali has experienced instability and violence since it fell to Tuareg separatists and Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012.

Despite a French-led military intervention in 2013 that drove the extremists from cities and towns, attacks have continued and extended farther south this year, including an assault on a Bamako restaurant popular with foreigners in March.

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