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Dec 3rd 2009 7:08AM There have always been warnings around since the beginning of the festival. What mostly happen are border skirmishes with small groups running contraband or other across the border, and this is about 300 km of desert away. No one has ever been kidnapped on the road to and from the festival from Timbuktu. But of course saying they were coming for the festival makes more interesting print...
Anyway, the army which is supposed to be involved in skirmishes with the Tuaregs are always present around the festival, and protect the festival and the Tuaregs. So all this is a bit paradoxical to say the least!. As to Al-Quaida presence... Creating fear always seems like a good excuse to place "advisors" in the desert.
I think there have been more people killed or kidnapped in Paris, this month than in the desert all year. Maybe the governments should start postings about traveling to Paris, New York, LA and Berlin!. Hey! we all know those cities are perfectly secured and terrorism-free!!
The biggest risk you will encounter is not wearing a seat-belt.
Aside from that particular risk you will be safe traveling from Timbuktu to Essakane and back.
Plans have not changes for this year's festival.