Algeria will increase security at oil and gas installations after a terrorist attack and military response left as many as 85 people dead and exposed a growing threat from al-Qaeda in North Africa.
Authorities said at least 23 hostages died, along with 32 militants, after the final Algerian special forces assault on Saturday at the Saharan In Amenas facility, operated by BP, Norway’s Statoil ASA and Algeria’s state-run Sonotrach.
Security forces found about 30 more corpses on Sunday, reported to be Algerian and foreign hostages, although they could not immediately be identified, according to al-Watan newspaper.
Algerian Minister of Energy Youcef Yousfi said the nation had “the necessary means to secure its energy facilities,” the state-run Algeria Press Service reported. “We are going to strengthen security and we rely first on our means and resources.”
Foreign forces would not be used, he said.
US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron said the attack underlined the threats posed by al-Qaeda-linked groups in North Africa following the “Arab Spring” uprisings. It came just four months after the US ambassador to Libya was killed by Islamist gunmen at the US consulate in Benghazi.
The gas plant raid was claimed by militants of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Mulathameen group, who said their action was inspired by the arrival last week of French forces seeking to block a jihadist takeover of neighboring Mali.
While Algerian authorities have yet to provide a full account of what took place and who died, some countries have confirmed casualty details.
The dead hostages included six Filipinos, three Britons, two Romanians, an American and a Frenchman. Five Norwegians, three UK citizens and a UK resident were missing, along with citizens of Japan, Colombia and Malaysia.
Cameron on Sunday compared the threat in terrorist North Africa to that in Afghanistan and said it would require “years, even decades” to counter.
Britain would use its chairmanship of the G8 to seek a joint response, he said.
Survivors gave accounts to newspapers of chaotic, terrifying scenes from inside the plant.
An Algerian engineer called Tahar told Le Soir d’Algerie newspaper of masked gunmen dressed in military uniform and of hostages forced to wear explosives around their necks.
Algerian Mohammed Amine Lahmar, a 31-year-old guard, was executed by gunmen when he refused to open a door in the gas plant, al Watan reported, while French catering worker Alexandre Berceaux was protected and fed by Algerian colleagues while he hid under a bed for 40 hours before being rescued by the army.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said governments must be “unrelenting” in their battle and acknowledged that the West should have been more concerned about the flow of arms across the region following the NATO’s role in the downfall of late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
The ministry said 32 terrorists were involved — the same number it said were killed — and that only three were Algerian.
The attackers wore Libyan military uniforms, Algeria’s privately run Ennahar television said on its Web site, citing unidentified officials.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient