Obama seeks “fuller understanding” of what happened in Algeria siege

by Reuters  |  published on January 21, 2013

algeria

President Barack Obama offered on Saturday to provide any assistance the Algerian government needs after a deadly hostage siege at a desert gas plant and said the United States was seeking a “fuller understanding” from Algerian authorities of what took place there.

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the families of all those who were killed and injured in the terrorist attack in Algeria,” Obama said in his first comments on the hostage crisis.

Obama’s written statement was issued by the White House after the Algerian army carried out a dramatic final assault to end a siege by Islamist militants in which 23 hostages were killed, many of them believed to be foreigners.

The statement made no mention of Americans who were caught up in the hostage crisis. One American has been confirmed dead, and a source close to the crisis said two Americans were among those freed as the Algerian army closed in.

Some Western governments had expressed frustration at not being informed of the Algerian authorities’ plans to storm the remote complex, but U.S. officials had remained cautious in their comments as the situation unfolded.

“The blame for this tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out,” Obama said. “We have been in constant contact with Algerian officials and stand ready to provide whatever assistance they need in the aftermath of this attack.”

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