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The Mali War

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Algeria Rescue Operation Ongoing says British PM

January 18th 2013

French troops Mali

British Prime Minister David Cameron says Algerian forces are still pursuing Islamist militants and attempting to free hostages at a remote Sahara Desert gas complex.
Cameron told lawmakers in London Friday he has spoken with Algeria's prime minister, who said that the crisis sparked by al-Qaida-linked militants is not over.

"He said that the terrorists had tried to flee, that they judged there to be an immediate threat to the lives of the hostages and had felt obliged to respond.  When I spoke to to the Algerian prime minister later last night he told me that this first operation was complete," Cameron said. "But this is a large and complex site and they are still pursuing terrorists and possibly some of the hostages in other areas of the site."

Offers for help ignored
Algerian forces ignored offers of foreign help on Thursday, storming the facility two days after the militants seized dozens of hostages, including many foreigners.

The Algerian Press Service reported Friday that more than 60 foreign hostages and more than 570 Algerians have been freed in the operation. There was no way to independently confirm the figures. The report said Algerian special forces are trying to reach a peaceful settlement with militants still holding a group of hostages. It also said the gas facility has been "decommissioned" to avoid the risk of explosion. Speaking during a trip to Perth, Australia, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned the Algerian kidnapping is part of a much more worrisome problem. "This terrible incident of terrorism has highlighted again the threat in North Africa and the Sahel, from international terrorism, and working with our international partners we will maintain our resolve to see that threat countered and defeated and al-Qaida denied a foothold on Europe's southern border," he stated.

This October 8, 2012 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Amenas Gas Field in Algeria, which is jointly operated by BP and Norway's Statoil and Algeria's Sonatrach.

 

​​In France, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls also raised concerns about militant groups and links to Europe. ``For years, there have been French jihadis who have gone to fight a war in Afghanistan, in Syria, and a very small handful in the Sahel. They are obviously being watched by our intelligence agencies,'' he added. There are also growing concerns in the United States. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is in London and met with Prime Minister Cameron for 45 minutes on Friday. He made no comment afterward. At least six foreign captives have been confirmed safe by their governments -- three Japanese, two French workers and an Irishman.


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