01/20/2013 10:43 EST | Updated 03/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Canada Evacuates Mali Embassy Staff, Urges Canadians To Get Out Of Country

French foreign legionnaires drive through the market in Niono, some 400 kilometers (249 miles) north of the capital Bamako, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. The Malian military announced late Saturday that the government was now controlling Diabaly, marking an important accomplishment for the French-led offensive to oust the extremists from northern and central Mali. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

OTTAWA - The federal government has evacuated most of its staff and their families from the embassy in Mali, and is urging any Canadians still in the country to get out now.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says all non-essential staff and all 29 dependents of the workers and diplomats there have been relocated from the mission in the capital of Bamako.

The situation in Mali has been volatile for nearly a year, with Islamist radicals taking over northern parts of the country following a coup.

Two thousand French troops are now stationed in the country, trying to help the government there dislodge the insurgents.

Foreign Affairs warns that it now has a skeleton staff in Bamako, with limited ability to help any Canadians who have stubbornly remained in the country.

The department says in addition to the political instability and military clashes, there is a threat of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the northern region.

Canada has sent a heavy-lift plane to help the French military with their operation in Mali.

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