US State Department issues travel warning for Niger

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Mon, 30 Oct 2017 - 11:04 GMT

nternational passengers arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles - REUTERS

nternational passengers arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles - REUTERS

WASHINGTON - 31 October 2017: The US State Department on Monday urged the US citizens not to travel to Niger or surrounding area in a travel warning that cited kidnappings by terrorist organizations, The Hill reported.

"Terrorist organizations, armed groups, and smugglers operate in the areas bordering Mali, Libya, and throughout northern Niger,” the travel warning said. "Mali-based extremist groups have crossed the border and carried out multiple lethal attacks on Nigerien security forces (FDS) and on US forces assisting the FDS."

The travel warning cited al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Daesh affiliates in the Sahara, Libya, and West Africa and Boko Haram.

The announcement from the State Department comes weeks after four US Green Berets were killed in Niger when militants ambushed them and Nigerien troops.

"There is a high threat of kidnapping by various terrorist groups, who have kidnapped Westerners, including a US citizen, and threatened US citizens in Niger," the State Department added.

“As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations have suspended operations in Niger or withdrawn family members and/or staff.”

The warning also comes the same day the State Department promised up to $60 million to aid the Group of Five Sahel States (G5 Sahel) Joint Force, which includes Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Burkina Faso, in security efforts.

"Defeating terrorism depends on making sure terrorist organizations cannot have safe havens on any continent," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement Monday.

"This money will bolster our regional partners in their fight to ensure security and stability in the face of ISIS and affiliated groups and other terrorist networks. This is a fight we must win, and these funds will play a key role in achieving that mission," he added.

Various extremist groups operate throughout both the Sahel and West Africa, including multiple ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates.

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