AQIM threat in Mali troubles U.S.

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (UPI) — Washington said it’s aware of al-Qaida plots in Mali to attack Western targets and therefore warns of the risk of traveling to the North African country.

In September, Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said embassy officials in Algiers received threat information and alerted potential targets of the possibility of an attack by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

AQIM took responsibility for August attacks on the Cherchell Military Academy in Algeria. The attack left 16 students and two civilians dead.

The State Department, in a travel warning, said it was had “several” leads that suggested AQIM was plotting to attack Western targets and has a particular interest in kidnapping Western nationals.

“In addition to threats posed by AQIM and potential hostage takers, violent confrontations between rival drug and arms traffickers have occurred in northern Mali over the past year,” the warning read. “The threat posed by AQIM, sporadic banditry, and the porous nature of Mali’s northern borders with Algeria, Niger and Mauritania all reinforce longstanding security concerns affecting travel to northern Mali.”

In August, Libyan and Arab sources to London’s pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq al-Awsat said Gadhafi sent an adviser to Mali and Tunisia with the aim of “securing a safe exit for Gadhafi and his family from Libya.”

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