FOREIGN POLICY

State Dept. advises US citizens against going to Mali

Mali trooper assist a hostage, centre, to leave the scene, from the Radisson Blu hotel to safety after gunmen attacked the hotel in Bamako, Mali, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. Islamic extremists armed with guns and throwing grenades stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Friday morning, killing at least three people and initially taking numerous hostages, authorities said.  (AP Photo/Harouna Traore)

Mali trooper assist a hostage, centre, to leave the scene, from the Radisson Blu hotel to safety after gunmen attacked the hotel in Bamako, Mali, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. Islamic extremists armed with guns and throwing grenades stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Friday morning, killing at least three people and initially taking numerous hostages, authorities said. (AP Photo/Harouna Traore)

The State Department is warning U.S. citizens against traveling to Mali and is authorizing the voluntary departure of eligible family members and non-emergency personnel from the U.S. Embassy in the African nation's capital.

The department is also urging Americans already in Mali to "review their personal safety and security plans" to decide if they should leave.

The advisory issued Tuesday advises U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and "avoid public gatherings and locations frequented by foreigners."

Last month, heavily armed Islamic extremists attacked a luxury hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako. Twenty people, including one American, were killed.

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