Algeria made mistakes over hostage crisis, foreign minister admits
Source: The Guardian
The Algerian army made mistakes in its handling of the hostage crisis at a gas plant deep in the Sahara desert in which dozens of foreign workers, including six Britons, were killed, the country's foreign minister has admitted.
Speaking after international criticism of the four-day offensive by Algerian troops against Islamist fighters at the In Amenas gas facility, Mourad Medelci also conceded that his government needed international help to help it fight terrorism.
Algeria's decision to refuse foreign offers of help in handling the crisis, and to send the army to fire on vehicles full of hostages, drew widespread international criticism. At least 81 people are now belived to have died during the seige, including British, American, French, Japanese, Norwegian and Romanian workers.
The crisis began on 16 January when the jihadist group Signers in Blood, which is affiliated to al-Qaida, attacked the facility run by BP, Statoil and the Algerian state oil company. Some foreign workers were killed in the initial assault, but scores of others hid around the plant and its residential compound. The gunmen searched the plant and tied up those they found and rigged them with explosives.