U.S. counter-terrorism experts in contact with Algerians: Clinton

U.S. counter-terrorism experts in contact with Algerians: Clinton
# 18 January 2013 02:15 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that the U.S. counter-terrorism experts have been in "close contact" with their Algerian counterparts as the hostage crisis at a natural gas plant in Algeria is unfolding, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

"Our counter-terrorism experts have been in close contact with their Algerian counterparts throughout the last days," Clinton said after meeting with new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at the State Department.

"We've also been in close consultation with partners around the world, sharing information, working to contribute to the resolution of this hostage situation as quickly as possible," she added.

Citing the "fluidity" of the situation and a lot of on-going " planning", Clinton declined to give further details regarding the situation on the ground.

But she pointed out that the security of the Americans being held hostage is "our highest priority". She said she is expected to speak Thursday afternoon with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal who she had just spoken with on Wednesday.

A group of militants on Wednesday attacked a natural gas plant operated jointly by British Petroleum and Algerian and Norwegian companies to avenge Algeria's support for French military operations against Islamic militants in Mali. They claimed that they had taken 41 foreigners hostage, including American, British, French, Irish, Norwegian and Japanese citizens.

The Algerian military launched an air and ground assault earlier in the day in an attempt to rescue the hostages. Algerian Minister of Communication Mohamed Said Oubelaid on Thursday confirmed deaths and injuries among the hostages, without giving the exact casualties.

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