France has advised its nationals “whose presence is not essential” to leave Mali as Tuareg rebels sweep across the north of the country in the wake of a military coup.

“It is recommended not to travel to Mali until further notice,” said a statement on the French foreign ministry’s travel advice website after the rebels last week seized several towns in the north, including Timbuktu.

“Given the instability of the security situation currently prevailing in the country, notably in Bamako, it is recommended that our compatriots whose presence is not essential temporarily leave the country,” the statement said.

There are around 5,000 French nationals in Mali, a former French colony.

Mali’s political situation is growing increasingly chaotic after the internationally-condemned coup which forced President Amadou Toumani Toure to flee. He is in hiding in the capital Bamako, but has said he is safe.

From: AFP

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