In retaliation for the French offensive against Islamist fighters in Mali, U.S. citizens have been taken hostage by an extremist group in Algeria. Spencer Ackerman has reported for Wired today, Jan. 16, 2013, Extremists Take Americans Hostage in Algeria. This unforeseen consequence of the French military operation in Mali could get the U.S. involved directly in the conflict.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has confirmed that an unspecified number of American citizens have been abducted by an Islamist militant group at an eastern Algerian oil field earlier in the day. The group which is claiming responsibility for the abduction, Katibat Moulathamine, or the “Masked Brigade,” has told a Mauritanian news service that the abduction was planned in retaliation for the French air campaign against Islamist militants in northern Mali, which began on Friday. ABC News has reported that the attackers are believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida.
EuroNews has also reported on this story, Algeria gas site attack sparks international hostage crisis. There is now a major international hostage crisis unfolding after Islamist militants stormed a gas installation in Algeria where scores of workers were abducted. The militant group claims it is holding 41 Westerners. In a video which was released earlier this week, militants’ warned France to stop its hostilities in Mali or it would be “digging the graves of its own sons”.