Algeria Hostage Siege Turns Mali War Global

Mali's civil war has turned into a global scuffle after Islamist fighters took three Americans and dozens of other Westerners hostage at the In Amenas gas plant facility in the Algerian desert, Reuters reported. A group calling itself the "Battalion of Blood" stormed a natural gas pumping site and held 43 nationals hostage deep in the Sahara. The group, which is led by an Algerian veteran of guerrilla wars in Afghanistan, has demanded that France halt its week-old intervention in Mali, an operation endorsed by Western and African allies who fear that al-Qaida is building a haven in the desert. The militants also accused Algeria of shutting its border to Malian refugees, and for permitting French warplanes fly over its territory into Mali. The hostage situation presents French President Francois Hollande with a daunting dilemma, and he now faces the possibility of future attacks on more French and other Western targets in Africa. The Algerian government has ruled out negotiating, prompting Hollande to call for international support against rebels posing a threat to Africa and the West.

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