Gunmen have forced more than 800 workers to leave the Taoudenie salt mine in Mali.
A worker at the mine, Hama Ould El Hilla said that eight men armed with AK-47 assault rifles arrived at the mine in a vehicle with a mounted gun and order the miners to leave.
Hilla reported that the miners then travelled to Timbuktu, 750 kilometers south of the mine.
He said that the gunmen did not identify themselves.
The Australian Government’s travel advice for Mali remains at ‘Do Not Travel’.
Located in western Africa, Mali has been plagued by inter-ethnic violence since Al-Qaida-linked Islamist extremist rebels took over much of northern Mali in a March 2012 military coup.
French forces intervened in 2013, and rejoined regional efforts to oust the militants on January 11, 2014, after Islamist rebels threatened the Malian capital of Bamako. A state of emergency was declared in Mali on January 12, 2014, by interim president Dioncounda Traore.
The US State Department ordered the family members of all embassy employees to leave the country on January 18, and cited “ongoing fighting in northern and central Mali, fluid political conditions, the loss of government control of Mali’s northern provinces, and continuing threats of attacks and kidnappings of westerners.”