PARIS Jan 17 The Algerian hostage crisis seems
to be nearing a dramatic end, French President Francois Hollande
said on Thursday, adding that events at the desert gas plant
showed his intervention in Mali to combat Islamist rebels was
Twenty-five foreign hostages escaped and six were killed on
Thursday when Algerian forces launched an operation to free them
at the remote plant, Algerian sources said, as one of the
biggest international hostage crises in decades unfolded.
"This all seems to be heading towards an end in dramatic
conditions," Hollande said at the start of a speech to business
leaders. "What is happening in Algeria justifies all the more
the decision I made in the name of France to intervene in Mali
in line with the U.N. charter."
However, he added that he did not yet have enough
information to allow a proper assessment of the situation.
French aircraft began bombing the rebels in Mali who were
advancing on the capital Bamako last week and sent in ground
troops. However, Paris eventually wants to hand over leadership
of the campaign to forces from the ECOWAS group of West African
"This is about halting a terrorist aggression and allowing
the Africans to mobilise to restore Mali's territorial
integrity," said Hollande.
Following the intervention, fellow Islamists seized the
hostages at the gas plant across the Sahara desert.