Nations fume, quietly, over Algerian hostage raid

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Associated Press

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 1:34 PM

LONDON (AP) — Nations with hostages in Algeria are reacting with muted anger to the decision by the North African country to launch a military rescue mission without consulting the other governments.

The United States, Britain and other countries say they weren't told in advance of the raid. Privately, diplomats are furious -- but experts say their reaction is being tempered by the fact that Algeria is an anti-terrorist ally and a major oil and gas producer.

Algerian special forces stormed a gas plant in eastern Algeria yesterday, hoping to wipe out the Islamist militants who had taken over the plant and free hostages from at least 10 countries. Several hostages and their captors were reported dead or injured, but the numbers remain unclear.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he made several phone calls to Algeria's premier urging that other leaders be consulted before any action was taken. He says he offered technical and intelligence support. A U.S. official says the United States also offered help, but the offer was refused.

As angry as there are, there's not much the other governments can do. Algeria is vital to Western hopes of containing al-Qaida influence in North and West Africa. And its large oil and gas reserves are crucial to the world's energy supply.

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APPHOTO LON816: Unidentified rescued hostages pose for the media in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria's state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Associated Press TV) (asterisk)(asterisk) TV OUT ALGERIA OUT (asterisk)(asterisk) (18 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO LON816 (01/18/13)>>

APPHOTO LON813: An unidentified rescued hostage receives treatment in a hospital Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria's state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Assiaciated Press TV) (asterisk)(asterisk) TV OUT ALGERIA OUT (asterisk)(asterisk) (18 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO LON813 (01/18/13)>>

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