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The disappearance of a commercial jetliner over northern Mali on Thursday is the latest in a string of airliners flying over conflict areas that is heightening international concern about flight paths.

Initial reports indicate bad weather may have been a factor when an Air Algérie flight en route to Algiers from Burkina Faso with 116 people aboard disappeared over Northern Mali and probably crashed, according to the French government.

The area is known for fighting for the past two years. Northern Mali fell under control of ethnic Tuareg separatists and then al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012. A French-led intervention last year scattered the extremists, but the Tuaregs have since pushed back.

Related: American among 116 aboard plane down in Mali

The disappearance of a commercial jetliner over northern Mali on Thursday is the latest in a string of airliners flying over conflict areas that is heightening international concern about flight paths.

Initial reports indicate bad weather may have been a factor when an Air Algérie flight en route to Algiers from Burkina Faso with 116 people aboard disappeared over Northern Mali and probably crashed, according to the French government.

The area is known for fighting for the past two years. Northern Mali fell under control of ethnic Tuareg separatists and then al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012. A French-led intervention last year scattered the extremists, but the Tuaregs have since pushed back.

The Flight 17 crash prompted questions about why passenger jets continued to fly over an active war zone, where military planes have been shot down, most recently on Tuesday. Since the crash, airlines have avoided flying over the region, a convenient flight path between Western Europe and southern Asia.

The Federal Aviation Administration had previously cautioned airlines about flying that route. Last year, it warned commercial airliners of the risk of flying over Mali.

On Tuesday, the FAA banned U.S. commercial flights into Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport after a rocket from Gaza struck about a mile away. The FAA lifted the ban just before midnight Wednesday.

The European Aviation Safety Agency also had recommended suspending flights into Ben Gurion earlier in the week.

"Airlines overfly conflicted areas all the time, whether it's in the Middle East or wherever it might be," Kees Rietsema, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Phoenix told The Washington Post last week.

Rietsema, an Air Force veteran and former commercial pilot who also served as a staff member at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added: "From a strictly legal perspective, you can overfly that closed airspace and there's no one telling you you can't be there, but on the other hand I would say that you also are assuming the risk on your own that something untoward could happen."

Contributing: Doug Stanglin; The Associated Press

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