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Britons urged to leave Mali as rebel gunmen attack northern city of Gao ten days after claiming capital



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British urge to leave Mali as armed rebels attack northern city of Gao, ten days after claiming capital

British citizens currently in Mali, in West Africa, are being asked to leave.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has changed its travel advice and is calling on everyone except those who have urgent business there to leave.

The new advisory follows a coup attempt last week and specifically warns people in the capital, Bamako, to exercise caution.

The new advice follows a coup attempt last week and specifically warns people in the capital Bamako to exercise caution.

The new advice follows a coup attempt last week and specifically warns people in the capital Bamako to exercise caution.

In a statement, the foreign ministry said: “We advise against all travel to Mali and you should leave if you do not have an urgent need to stay.”

It said a curfew set from 6pm-6am had now been lifted, but added: “We continue to advise British citizens in Bamako to exercise caution and stay away from crowds and demonstrations when traveling through the city.

“There are reports that some stores are starting to empty and there are long lines at some banks.

Soldiers march through looted presidential palace, days after mutinous soldiers claimed power in a coup d'état, in Bamako Soldiers march through looted presidential palace, days after mutinous soldiers claimed power in a coup d'état, in Bamako

Soldiers march through looted presidential palace, days after mutinous soldiers claimed power in a coup d’état, in Bamako

“Given the ongoing instability in the country, and now that the airport has reopened, you should leave if you don’t have an urgent need to stay.”

Rebels have already attacked Mali’s strategic northern city of Gao, a day after attacking the provincial capital, Kidal. had taken.

The two cities are important prizes for the Tuareg rebels, who launched an uprising in January fueled by the surge in arms following the fall of neighboring Libya, where many of the rebels were on the payroll of ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. .

A curfew that was set from 6pm to 6am has now been lifted A curfew that was set from 6pm to 6am has now been lifted

A curfew that was set from 6pm to 6am has now been lifted

If Gao falls, Timbuktu will be the only other major city in northern Mali in government hands.

A soldier at a military camp on the outskirts of Gao said he could hear the sound of heavy weapons being fired on Saturday.

A Gao resident said he had seen Tuareg fighters in the city and that there were brief firefights in the city. He said people had barricaded themselves at home.

Rebels have already attacked Mali's strategic northern city of Gao, a day after attacking the provincial capital, Kidal.  had taken Rebels have already attacked Mali's strategic northern city of Gao, a day after attacking the provincial capital, Kidal.  had taken

Rebels have already attacked Mali’s strategic northern city of Gao, a day after attacking the provincial capital, Kidal. had taken

The soldier and the resident demanded anonymity because they feared retaliation.

Mali now faces severe economic sanctions over the coup.

A representative of the military junta that took control of Mali in a coup last week says the group is confident they will find a solution to the crisis after meeting with the president of Burkina Faso.

Colonel Moussa Coulibaly told reporters after Saturday’s meeting in Burkina Faso that the junta delegation “departs with confidence and that we hope that in the shortest possible time we will reach a consensus on how to restore the institutions of the state in a way it will be acceptable to the world.l

Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore is one of five regional leaders actively involved in mediating a return to constitutional order following the March 21 coup.

Compaore and the other presidents have given the junta a 72-hour deadline to return power to citizens, which expires Monday.

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