Mali Conflict Turns Global as Islamists Take Hostages in Algeria
French troops from the 21st Rima (French Navy Infantry Regiment) arrive near the town of Markala to secure a strategic bridge on the Niger river on January 16 after leaving the capital Bamako the day before. After days of airstrikes on Islamist positions in northern Mali, French and Malian troops battled the insurgents in the small town of Diabaly, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of Bamako. (MICHEL MOUTOT/AFP/Getty Images)
January 17, 2013
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
The French intervention in Mali to stop radical Islamists from taking control of the country turned into a global conflict yesterday when Islamist terrorists at an Algerian gas pumping facility took 65 or more hostages from several countries – including the United States, Japan, and Europe. Thirty-five hostages and 15 of the hostage takers reportedly were killed this morning in an Algerian airstrike. 
Algerian troops have surrounded the gas pumping facility in the town of Ain Amernas near the Algeria-Libya border where the hostages were taken. Reports on the number of hostages  killed today is unconfirmed. An Algerian news service said 30 to 40 hostages escaped last night. In a related development, terrorists in Somalia said today they killed a French hostage in retaliation for the French intervention in Mali. 
Algeria conducted the raid on the gas plant without providing advance notice to other states, including the governments of the hostages. In doing so, Algerian officials ignored an explicit request by British Prime Minister David Cameron that the UK receive advance word before any operation to free the hostages. Some experts have assessed that Algeria’s attack on the facility was a “show of strength” by the government because of its fears of Islamist terrorism that stem from the more than 150,000 who died in the Algerian Civil War in the 1990s after Islamists took power.  Algerian officials are also nervous that instability that has swept through region due to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings could still affect their country.
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