Mali crisis: British Embassy staff withdrawn
The British government has withdrawn staff from its embassy in Mali's capital Bamako in the aftermath of a military coup in the African state.
A UK Foreign Office spokesman said it had taken the temporary measure because of the "unstable and unpredictable situation" in Mali.
It meant consular assistance in the country was now suspended, he added.
On Wednesday, Britain urged any citizens still in Mali to leave unless they had "urgent business".
The withdrawal of Embassy staff follows a declaration of independence by Mali's Tuareg separatist rebels for a northern region they call Azawad.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which seized control of the area last week, is one of two rebel groups to have gained ground in the region after Mali's troops ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure.
The BBC's international development correspondent Mark Doyle said the new state was unlikely to be recognized by the outside world.
France, the colonial power in Mali, said the Tuareg rebels were fighting alongside the north African branch of al-Qaeda.
The Foreign Office spokesman added: "Consular assistance will continue to be provided to British nationals from our Embassy in [Senegalese capital] Dakar but the UK's ability to help British nationals who choose to remain in Mali may become limited."
On Wednesday, the Foreign Office specifically warned Britons to be cautious in Malian capital Bamako and to stay away from crowds and demonstrations in the city.
"There have been reports of some shops beginning to run low on supplies and of long queues forming outside some banks," it added.
"Given ongoing instability in the country, and now that the airport has re-opened, you should leave if you have no pressing need to remain."