Support for Algeria grows after crisis

Jan. 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The Algerian military has the support of members of the European community as they take on terrorist groups in the region, a European diplomat said.

Algerian forces last week responded with unilateral action when al-Qaida militants took several Algerian and Western workers hostage at a natural gas facility in eastern Algeria.

Some members of the international community expressed frustration they weren't briefed on the issue before Algerian forces responded.

Stefan Fule, European commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy, said he spoke with Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci to discuss the situation. The European community is committed to a strong relationship with Algeria as it copes with lingering security threats in the region, he said.

"During my conversation with Minister Medelci, I have expressed my support for the Algerian authorities and their commitment to fight terrorism and to free the hostages held by the terrorist group," Fule said in a statement.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said in a televised news conference Monday the known hostage death toll was 37 victims from eight countries. Five people remain missing, all of them foreigners. Twenty-nine kidnappers also died.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement Tuesday confirming that three of its citizens had returned to Turkey after the attack. Ankara said regional issues require a response from all members of the international community.

"Turkey will continue to cooperate with the Algerian authorities in the field of fight against terrorism," a statement from the ministry read.

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