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Obama says Algeria hostage crisis another reminder of terror threat

U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday condemned the terrorist attack in Algeria leading to the deaths of 23 hostages, calling it another reminder of the threat posed by al-Qaeda and other violent extremist groups in North Africa.

"The blame for this tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out, and the United States condemns their actions in the strongest possible terms," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

This was the first public comment made by the U.S. president over the hostage crisis in Algeria, where al-Qaeda affiliated militants on Wednesday attacked and kidnapped hundreds of Algerian and foreign workers at a gas complex near In Amenas in eastern Algeria, in a bid to avenge Algeria's support for French involvement in the conflict in neighboring Mali.

"The attack is another reminder of the threat posed by al-Qaeda and other violent extremist groups in North Africa," Obama said, adding that the U.S. government will continue to work closely with its partners to combat the scourge of terrorism in the region.

Obama also said the U.S. government has been in constant contact with Algerian officials and pledged to "stand ready to provide whatever assistance they need in the aftermath of this attack."

"In the coming days, we will remain in close touch with the Government of Algeria to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so that we can work together to prevent tragedies like this in the future," he added.

Algerian troops have launched successive raids on the gas complex since Thursday in an attempt to rescue the hostages, with the final assault Saturday to end the four-day standoff.

According to media reports, a total of 23 hostages, including an American, and 32 militants were killed during the raids,while 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreign nationals were freed.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 19Jan13]

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