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US embassy in Mali issues travel alert after citizen is kidnapped in Niger

US embassy in Mali issues travel alert after citizen is kidnapped in Niger


The United States (US) embassy in Mali has cautioned citizens to be careful of their movements. The call comes in the wake of the abduction of a US citizen in neighbouring Niger last Friday.

‘‘The US Embassy in Bamako is aware of reports of the kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in neighboring Niger.  The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the continued threat of kidnapping and attacks targeting Westerners in Mali,’‘ a statement said.

‘‘Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. 

Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, and exercise caution throughout the country, especially at night,’‘ the statement added.

The embassy also referred citizens to the Travel Warning for Mali dated July 1, 2016. According to the travel alert issued by the Department of State, ‘‘The security environment in Mali remains fluid, and the potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Bamako, remains high.’‘

Gunmen raided the house of a US aid worker in central Niger on Friday night, killing his guard and housekeeper before driving him across the desert toward Mali, the interior ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Jeffery Woodke, who works for a local NGO called JEMED and has lived in Niger since 1992, was taken from his home in the town of Abalak at around 2000 GMT by a group of armed men in a Toyota Hilux pickup truck, the statement said.

The July travel alert by the US ordered the departure of eligible family members 21 and younger and authorized the departure of their accompanying adult parents from the U.S. Embassy in Bamako. 

It also cautioned citizens about the activities of violent groups that were targeting foreigners. They cited the activities of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the activities of al-Mourabitoun, which had claimed lives in the region.