DAKAR Jan 18 The al Qaeda-linked group that
claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping at a desert gas
complex in Algeria said on Friday it would carry out more
operations, Mauritania's ANI news agency said, citing a
spokesman for the hostage-takers.
The member of the Mulathameen brigade, whose name means "The
Masked Ones", warned Algerians to "stay away from the
installations of foreign companies as we will strike where it is
least expected," ANI said.
It was not immediately possible to verify the report but ANI
has close links to the group, led by Algerian Mokhtar
Belmokhtar, a veteran of the mujahideen in Afghanistan and of
Algeria's civil war dubbed 'Mr Marlboro' for his involvement in
smuggling in the lawless Sahara.
At least 22 foreign hostages remained unaccounted for on
Friday. A local source said the gas facility, operated by BP
, Norway's Statoil and Algeria's state oil firm,
was still surrounded by Algerian special forces and some
hostages remained inside.
The Mulathameen spokesman said the group had prepared the
attack for nearly two months in reprisal for international
efforts to oust Islamist groups from northern Mali, ANI
"We knew that the (Algerian) government was going to ally
itself with France in the war against Azawad," the spokesman
said, using the name rebels in north Mali have given their
An al Qaeda-linked alliance seized control of the vast area,
twice the size of Texas, last year. France launched air strikes
against the rebels a week ago to halt their southward advance
toward the capital Bamako, kick-starting a U.N.-mandated
intervention supposed to be led by African states.
"While taking account of the sufferings of the Algerian
people, we promise more operations against the regime in place,"
the spokesman said, according to ANI.