Obama seeks "fuller understanding" of what happened in Algeria siege

WASHINGTON Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:36pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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."

"We also will continue to work closely with all of our partners to combat the scourge of terrorism in the region," he added.

"This attack is another reminder of the threat posed by al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups in North Africa," Obama said. "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."

Obama, who takes the official oath of office on Sunday for a second term at the White House and will then be sworn in again publicly on Monday, juggled inauguration preparations and briefings from his national security aides on the hostage situation in Algeria.

(Reporting By Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (150)
johnpcenter wrote:
i though obama said al quada was dead and on the ropes,

Jan 19, 2013 7:24pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Sammy50 wrote:
Has Obama considered the possibility that it was the anti-Muslim video that precipitated the situation?

Jan 19, 2013 7:24pm EST  --  Report as abuse
CashMcCall wrote:
Here we have Obama a few days late and a few dollars short again. I suppose he is looking for a YOUTUBE movie to blame. This was Terrorism Mr. President, just like Benghazi and here you are again in a big fog over it wondering about what happened. American Hostages were Killed that’s what happened. Once again we have the Taliban causing the mess, the group that you claimed before the reelection was contained. Right. Now we know that was just a political stunt because you are clueless as usual.

Instead of paying attention to the economy you went for Obamacare which will only hurt the economy. Instead of these issues over terrorism you focusing on gun control which useless instead of affairs of state particularly US Hostages taken. You did nothing. They are all dead. I am sure you and Mrs. Obama need to go on another lavish vacation to avoid any discussion of your ineptness.

Jan 19, 2013 7:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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