The prime minister of Algeria offered an unapologetic defense on Monday of the country’s tough actions to end the Sahara hostage crisis, saying that the militants who had carried out the kidnappings intended to kill all their captives and that the army saved many from death by attacking.
But the assertion came as the death toll of foreign hostages rose sharply, to 37, and as American officials said they had offered sophisticated surveillance help that could minimize casualties, both before and during the military operation to retake a seized gas field complex in the Algerian desert.
While some have shunned the Algerian government’s decision to pass on several Western countries’ offers to assist with the situation, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal staunchly defended Algerians right to protect themselves from any/all attackers. “Algerians are not people who sell themselves out,” Sellal told members of the press, adding, “When the security of the country is at stake, there is no possible discussion.”
16:21 // 1 year ago
News that the attack at In Amenas was apparently led by a Canadian appeared to confirm reports that the region, especially the northern areas of Mali that are now controlled by violent Islamists, has become a magnet for radicals from all over the world.
The Maghreb Emergent website had already quoted one Algerian worker at the gas installation as saying that the kidnappers included Libyans, Egyptian and Syrian radicals.
Bad news continues to emerge from the Algerian gas field attacked by militant fighters last week, an act of terrorism which was allegedly carried out in retaliation for French intervention in Mali. New reports suggest nearly 40 foreign hostages died as a result of the attack, which came to an end after Algerian forces attempted to storm the complex last Thursday. Think the United States should be more involved?
15:24 // 1 year ago
Thirty hostages and at least 11 Islamist militants were killed on Thursday when Algerian forces stormed a desert gas plant in a bid to free many dozens of Western and local captives, an Algerian security source said.
Details remained scant - including for Western governments, some of which did little to disguise irritation at being kept in the dark by Algeria before the raid and its bloody outcome.
Two Japanese, two Britons and a French national were among at least seven foreigners killed, the source told Reuters. Eight of the dead hostages were Algerian. The nationalities of the rest, as well as of perhaps dozens more who escaped, were unclear.
One of the worst international hostage situations in the modern era has now come to an end; unfortunately, Thursday evening brought about what many would consider to be the worst possible outcome. Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of the deceased.
UPDATE: Information from varying sources is wildly different, according to USA Today, with some suggesting just a few casualties and others, including the Reuters report, suggesting as many as 30 people have died.
17:47 // 1 year ago
Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels launched a counteroffensive in Mali on Monday after four days of French air strikes on their northern strongholds, seizing the central town of Diabaly and promising to drag France into a brutal Afghanistan-style war.
France, which has poured hundreds of troops into the capital Bamako in recent days, carried out more air strikes on Monday in the vast desert area seized last year by an Islamist alliance grouping al Qaeda’s north African wing AQIM alongside Mali’s home-grown MUJWA and Ansar Dine militant groups.
"France has opened the gates of hell for all the French," said Oumar Ould Hamaha, a spokesman for MUJWA, which has imposed strict sharia, Islamic law, in its northern fiefdom of Gao. "She has fallen into a trap which is much more dangerous than Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia," he told Europe 1 radio.
The UN is already estimating that approximately 230,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Mali, and the French government has heightened security in many public locations to prevent a possible retaliatory attacks on France’s civilian population. President Francois Hollande was also sure to specify that France’s only goal in Mali is to support the mission of a 15-member group of West African nations which received United Nations support back in December. source
15:23 // 1 year ago
Morgan Gliedman, a 27-year old graduate of Manhattan’s elite prep school Dalton and the daughter of one of New York Magazine's top doctors of 2012, was arrested along with her Harvard-educated boyfriend, Aaron Greene; both were charged with with felony possession of an explosive with intent to use and felony possession of a weapon, and Gliedman was also charged with four counts of felony grand larceny for credit card theft.
Along with a sawed-off shotgun — a customized 12-gauge Mossberg 500 — police discovered nine high-capacity rifle magazines, a flare launcher and a stash of a powerful powdered explosive called Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine, or HMTD, which was same explosive used in at least two prior terrorist attacks. The explosive is so powerful that, according to the New York Post, police evacuated several nearby apartments. Police also found “papers about creating homemade booby traps, improvised submachine guns, and various handwritten notebooks containing chemical formulas.”
Fun detail regarding this story: Morgan Gliedman apparently was nine months pregnant and went into labor not long after her arrest. So yeah, there’s that.
13:19 // 1 year ago
The Obama administration has formally designated a rebel group fighting in Syria as a terrorist organization in hopes of marginalizing the Al Qaeda affiliate and reducing its chances of playing a major role in the country should the government fall.
Administration officials blacklisted Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, describing it as a wing of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans during the height of the Iraq war. The Nusra Front is one of dozens of rebel groups that have emerged in the Syrian conflict.
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, blacklisting Jabhat al-Nusra — also known as the Nusra Front — will have on the rebel militia, which has earned the trust and support of many Syrians battling the Assad regime. However, it does prevent the United States from supporting the group, or any others that work with the Nusra Front in the future, and U.S. officials hope it will dissuade others in the region from supporting the group as well.
16:06 // 1 year ago