Military officers in Mali arrested the president, prime minister and defence minister of the country's interim government after a cabinet reshuffle on Monday, multiple diplomatic and government sources told Reuters.https://t.co/qtbI9hoefT
#Mali: Le président Bah Ndaw et son Premier ministre Moctar Ouane ont démissionné en présence de la mission de diplomates venus les voir à la base militaire de Kati, à une quinzaine de kilomètres de Bamako. pic.twitter.com/xp06XnPwU2
The US Embassy in Mail issued a security alert on August 18 as unrest unfolded in the capital city of Bamako. Soldiers have reportedly detained the country’s president, as well as the prime minister and other top officials in an apparent coup attempt. The Malian president had since announced his resignation on TV.
Embassy Bamako issued a shelter in place order and suspended consular services on August 18. As of this writing it has not announced a resumption of services:
The U.S. Embassy is aware of gunfire and unrest in the area of Kati, as well as ongoing police/military operations in Bamako. There have been multiple reports of gunfire throughout the city as well as reports of soldiers driving in trucks and firing their weapons in the air. There are continued reports of demonstrators gathered at the Monument de l’Independance. The U.S. recommends all U.S. citizens avoid these areas, if possible. Likewise, the U.S. Embassy is recommending its staff to exercise caution, remain in doors, and avoid non-essential travel.
The U.S. Embassy has taken the following additional steps in response to the ongoing security threats:
Consular services at the U.S. Embassy were suspended for August 18.
Personnel are recommended to remain indoors.
Employees have been advised to avoid any unnecessary travel until further notice and to be cautious when crossing the bridges.
BREAKING: Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announces his resignation hours after being detained by mutinous soldiers. The dramatic development comes after more than two months of regular demonstrations calling for him to step down. https://t.co/7Udq37H28c
Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and top government officials were detained by mutinying soldiers in the capital Bamako, plunging a country already facing a jihadist insurgency and mass protests deeper into crisis https://t.co/v1fV70SoL8pic.twitter.com/zJv8t1RiPf
"For seven years I had the happiness and the joy of trying to straighten out this country," Mali's president said on TV tonight as he resigned after a coup. "I don't want any blood to be shed to keep me in my position."https://t.co/waNmw4Kw2t
The State Department’sLevel 4 – Do Not Traveladvisory category is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so.
As of January 4, 2019, there are eleven countries designated as Level 4 “do not travel” countries.
In Somalia, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens due to the lack of permanent consular presence in the country.
In North Korea, the State Department says that the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea. Sweden serves as the protecting power for the United States in North Korea, providing limited emergency services. However, the North Korean government routinely delays or denies Swedish officials access to detained U.S. citizens.
In South Sudan, U.S. government personnel are under a strict curfew. The advisory says personnel “must use armored vehicles for nearly all movements in the city, and official travel outside Juba is limited. Due to the critical crime threat in Juba, walking is also restricted; when allowed, it is limited to a small area in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy and must usually be conducted in groups of two or more during daylight hours. Family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in South Sudan.”
In Iraq, the U.S. government’s ability to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens is “extremely limited.” On October 18, 2018, the Department of State ordered the temporary suspension of operations at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah.
In Iran, the U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations. “The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iran. Switzerland serves as the protecting power for U.S. citizens in Iran, providing limited emergency services.”
In CAR, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel outside the Embassy compound.
The U.S. Embassy in Damascus in Syria suspended its operations in February 2012. “The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with Syria. The Czech Republic serves as the protecting power for the United States in Syria. The range of consular services that the Czech Republic provides to U.S. citizens is extremely limited, and the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Syria.”
In Mali, the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the northern and central regions of Mali as U.S. government employees travel to these regions is restricted due to security concerns.
In Libya, the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency or routine assistance to U.S. citizens as the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli suspended its operations in July 2014.
In Afghanistan: The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly outside of Kabul. Evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and the volatile security situation. Family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in Afghanistan. Unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. government employees and their family members is restricted and requires prior approval from the Department of State. U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling U.S. government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk. Additional security measures are needed for any U.S. government employee travel and movement through Afghanistan.
The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a suspended its operations in February 2015. The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Yemen.
This is a follow-up to our post in October 2017 about the death of Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar who was found dead in his room at post housing in Bamako, Mali on June 4, 2017. Two members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six were reportedly under investigation in his death. (see U.S.Embassy Bamako: Army Green Beret Logan J. Melgar’s Death in Mali Under Investigation as Homicide). Now two Navy SEALs and two Marine Raiders are facing murder charges in the 2017 death (see USNI News for charge sheet). A medical examiner ruled that Sgt. Melgar’s death was a homicide by asphyxiation. USNI News reports that the SEALs and Melgar lived in the same house and were members of the same joint special operations team attached to the U.S. Embassy in Bamako. These individuals will face a preliminary Article 32 hearing on the charges at Naval Station Norfolk on Dec. 10 according to USNI.
Media reports say that Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar was found dead in his room in embassy housing in Bamako, Mali on June 4, 2017 and that two members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six are reportedly under investigation in his death. One official told ABC News that the death is being investigated by the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) as a homicide and that investigators are looking into Melgar’s suspected asphyxiation.
Sgt. Melgar died in Bamako far from battlefield, in an “odd event” that requires an investigation. But the death occurred in June and even if there is an ongoing investigation, why is the public hearing about this death almost five months after the incident? The death also reportedly occurred in an embassy housing. Since NCIS (and not Diplomatic Security) is investigating, we suspect but that these DOD members are not/not under Chief of Mission Authority (pdf) while at post but under AFRICOM.
To the inevitable next question as to what our troops are doing in Mali, we understand that France is in the lead to counter Al Qaida/ISIS affiliates and the US military works in support of French operations in that country. It is also our understanding that there are six western hostages being held in Mali including one US citizen.
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On Sunday, June 18, gunmen reportedly attacked a tourist resort in Mali popular with Westerners. According to BBC News, the gunmen have stormed the luxury resort Le Campement Kangaba, east of the capital Bamako. The report citing the country’s security minister says that two people are dead, and that the hostages have been released. Two other people had reportedly been injured including a civilian, and that 32 guests had been rescued from the resort.
The U.S. Embassy in Mali says that the resort is 30 minutes southeast of the capital city. We understand that all our embassy folks are fine. State/OSAC is urging travelers in Mali to check in with their families and friends. See related posts below for previous security reports on this hotspot.
Posted: 3:25 am ET
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A Diplomatic Security Assistant Regional Security Officer who responded to Bamako’s Radisson Blu Hotel attack in Mali checks his weapon. Scrawled in ink on his arm are the room numbers of Americans trapped inside the hotel. The DSS-led team entered the building a second time to rescue them. (U.S. Department of State photo)
On March 1, 2016, the “authorized departure” order was lifted.
On July 1, 2016, the State Department updated its Travel Warning for Mali with a notice of an FAA NOTAM for Mali and the authorized departure of embassy family members again:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Mali of ongoing terrorist attacks and criminal violence in Mali. The security environment in Mali remains fluid, and the potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Bamako, remains high. Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revised its advisory NOTAM for Mali advising U.S. civil aviation to avoid flying below 26,000 ft (FL260) over the airspace of Mali. This Travel Warning is being updated to notify U.S. citizens that on July 1, 2016, the Department of State 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. This notice replaces the Travel Warning issued on April 21, 2016.
Violent extremist groups targeting foreigners, including al-Qa’ida in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Murabitoun, have claimed responsibility for multiple terrorist attacks in Mali over the past year, as well as kidnappings in Timbuktu and along the border with Burkina Faso. Furthermore, violent extremist elements continue to target Malian security forces, resulting in attacks on Malian government outposts and base camps for The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
On March 21, 2016, heavily armed assailants attacked the European Union’s Training Mission (EUTM) headquarters and primary residence in the diplomatic enclave in Bamako. Although no U.S. citizens were affected by the attack and no EUTM staffs were injured, one Malian security officer was shot and required extensive medical care. AQIM claimed responsibility for the attack.
On November 20, 2015, one U.S. citizen and 19 other foreigners were murdered when heavily armed assailants stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako using gunfire and grenades. AQIM and al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility for the attack.
Following the November 20, 2015 attacks on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the government of Mali increased its security presence in Bamako. Roadblocks and random police checkpoints, especially between sundown and sun-up, are possible. U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling outside the Bamako region, and may be subject to other restrictions, as security situations warrant. U.S. citizens should consider taking similar precautions, are reminded to stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings, and exercise caution throughout the country, especially at night.