News / Africa

Clinton 'Deeply Concerned' About Algeria Hostage Crisis

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks about the situation in Algeria at the State Department, January 18, 2013.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks about the situation in Algeria at the State Department, January 18, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is "deeply concerned" about the ongoing hostage crisis in Algeria, and called on the Algerian government to do everything in its power to save lives.

Clinton spoke during a joint appearance with the new Japanese foreign minister Friday in Washington as new reports from Algerian state media said at least 12 Algerians and foreigners had died after an assault by the Algerian army.

U.S. officials confirmed late Friday that one American, Frederick Buttaccio, was among the dead.

Clinton called the situation "extremely difficult and dangerous," but said because of the security concerns, she could not provide further details. She also said it is absolutely essential for the United States to" broaden and deepen" counter-terrorism efforts with Algeria and all countries of the region.

Ain Amenas, AlgeriaAin Amenas, Algeria
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Ain Amenas, Algeria
Ain Amenas, Algeria
Earlier, Algeria's state news agency said nearly 100 foreign hostages seized by Islamist militants on Wednesday had been freed, with more than 30 others still unaccounted for.

Friday's report, citing an unnamed security source, said militants seized a total of 132 foreign hostages in their raid at a natural gas complex in eastern Algeria Wednesday.  

The news agency reports the Algerian rescue operation continues, and that special forces are negotiating with militants still holding a group of hostages.  

Images Friday from Algerian television showed some of the rescued hostages thanking the Algerian military.

RESCUED HOSTAGE:"We are lucky that we are still alive and everything is good.
REPORTER: What do you think of army, of Algerian Army?
RESCUED HOSTAGE: They are a bit noisy. They are a bit noisy."

It was not clear whether the hostages reported to be freed were rescued by the Algerian army or released by their captors, and there has been no Western confirmation of the report.

The hostages at the site are believed to include nationals from the U.S., Britain, Japan, Norway, Romania, the Philippines, France, Malaysia and Austria.

Earlier Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described the situation as fluid and complicated. "They [the Algerians] are dealing with people who have no respect for human life and it is obviously in our interest to see them successfully bring this situation to a conclusion," she said.

Story continues below
  • Residents of Ain Amenas, Algeria, gather outside the hospital trying to get information concerning relatives wounded during the terrorist attack at the gas plant, January 18, 2013.
  • An unidentified former hostage speaks to the media in a hospital in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television, January 18, 2013. (Canal Algerie)
  • An unidentified former hostage receives treatment in a hospital in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television, January 18, 2013. (Canal Algerie)
  • Unidentified former hostages pose for the media in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television , January 18, 2013. (Canal Algerie)
  • Algerian special police unit officers secure the hospital in Ain Amenas, Algeria, January 18, 2013, two days after the start of the terrorist attack at a gas plant.

Officials in the U.S., Britain and other countries have said they are seeking information about developments at the plant - while expressing regret Algeria did not inform them in advance about the military operation.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to parliament about the hostage situation in Algeria in London, January 18, 2013.Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to parliament about the hostage situation in Algeria in London, January 18, 2013.
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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to parliament about the hostage situation in Algeria in London, January 18, 2013.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to parliament about the hostage situation in Algeria in London, January 18, 2013.
British Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers Friday that he got an update from Algeria's prime minister. "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," he said.

"When I spoke to the Algerian prime minister later last night he told me that this first operation was complete 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,"Cameron said.

The White House said Friday that President Obama is getting regular updates from security officials on the situation in Algeria.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is in London and met with Prime Minister Cameron on Friday. Officials said they discussed Algeria, Mali, and other issues.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivers a speech on the future of transatlantic relationships and the future of U.S. defense at King's College in London, England, January 18, 2013.U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivers a speech on the future of transatlantic relationships and the future of U.S. defense at King's College in London, England, January 18, 2013.
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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivers a speech on the future of transatlantic relationships and the future of U.S. defense at King's College in London, England, January 18, 2013.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivers a speech on the future of transatlantic relationships and the future of U.S. defense at King's College in London, England, January 18, 2013.
During a speech at London's King's College, Panetta said terrorists who attack Americans "will have no refuge - not in Algeria, not in North Africa, not anywhere."

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," said Hague.

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," said Valls.

The militants, who said they attacked the facility in retaliation for French military operations in Mali, on Friday threatened more attacks. A spokesman for the group told the Mauritanian news agency ANI that Algerian forces should stay away from foreign companies, vowing to strike "where it is least expected."

The gas complex, located on a base in a remote area of the desert, is jointly run by Algerian, British and Norwegian firms.

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by: Mahmet Antar from: Egypt
January 18, 2013 7:03 PM
somehow we have no sympathy for your "concern"... after all, you helped inaugurate Al Quaeda in Egypt. Egypt, today, is the first officially recognized Al Quaeda State. America seem to be really stupid... Bush wanted "free elections" in Gaza - you got Hamas... Obama wanted "free elections" in Egypt - you got Muslim Brotherhood... "free elections" in Iraq - you got the Moqtada al-Sadr madi army allied to Iran!!! America is beginning to be the agents of instability in the world. I am Egyptian, and i tell you America, before you do anything else - talk to the Israelies!!!

by: ali baba from: new york
January 18, 2013 6:12 PM
Ms. Clinton. wish you a quick recovery. terrorist is a international problem .it needs a cooperation from Islamic world such as Pakistan ,Afghanistan ,Egypt, .these countries are part of the problem and they are not the part of solution. The American policy is wrong. they support fanatic like moersi. ,The united state waste billion dollar in afghnistan.by supporting these regime ,make the problem out of control. the united policy for Islamic country should be based on facts. the fact is there is serious hatred and that hatred will not vanish by pouring money to bribe general in Pakistan. . we need cut all aids to them .once the economic pressure get tough on them ,they straight it out and fight local terrorism on their land. for example in Egypt , imam .as swfot hagazi and Abu Ismail. use media to spread the mission of hate .these mission of hate produce psychopath that involve in tragic terrorist attack in Algeria

by: Valery from: France
January 18, 2013 5:35 PM
well, she should be concerned... the whole world is frightened by this vile Islamic theocratic fascism... what do you do with a cult of suicide murderers...?? appease them..?? give them Jerusalem...?? there is nothing that they will not defile - Europe should follow the US and Israel - and confront these revolting scum... start by deporting them from the heart of Europe!!!

by: Matilde from: France
January 18, 2013 2:53 PM
all these "freed hostages" look suspiciously un-westerners... should we have paid more attention to the ranting of Islamic contamination in France.? should we have deported them when we had the chance.? have we been lied to by our politicians about "multiculturalism".? were we plied with inaccurate information about the US and Israel struggle to inform us.? we were encouraged to look with disdain on US and Israel efforts to confront this vile Muslims, and now we are suffering the consequences

by: ali baba from: new york
January 18, 2013 2:03 PM
the Islamic world especially Pakistan ,Afghanistan and Egypt is plying double standard. they support the terrorist in secret and say in public something else that is the reason for terrorist attacks for example, president Mubarak has sent many of them in jail . once moersi took the office, he released them . as a result Egyptian were involved in the attack on Libya and Algeria and we shall more in future

by: JULI EFENDI from: INDONESIA
January 18, 2013 1:29 PM
It's a good news.But why terorist is focus to attack US ??? we know Ossama is dead,who is the big leader for terrorist???
Thank's.
In Response

by: Pegasus from: Australia
January 18, 2013 7:57 PM
The Algerian Hostage situation is to create attention that will make people understand and adhere to the demands of the movement. Most of the freed hostages are Un-Westerners becasue otherwise what benefit could algerians have at detaining their own country folk when the messge they want to portray to the west is "Get out" and "we don't want you here."
this is not a targeted attack at the U.S this is an attack to push foreign influence out of the country and region.
it is an idea as a movement, it does not need a leader if somone feels the need to adhere to its principles.

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