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Sahara Islamists take hostages, spreading Mali war

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Mokhtar Belmokhtar, identified by the Algerian interior ministry as the leader of a militant Islamic group, is pictured in a screen capture from an undated video distributed by the Belmokhtar Brigade obtained by Reuters January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Belmokhtar Brigade/Handout

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, identified by the Algerian interior ministry as the leader of a militant Islamic group, is pictured in a screen capture from an undated video distributed by the Belmokhtar Brigade obtained by Reuters January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Belmokhtar Brigade/Handout
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JOE PENNEY

Malian soldiers stand guard as Mali's President Dioncounda Traore speaks to French troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney (MALI - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)

Malian soldiers stand guard as Mali's President Dioncounda Traore speaks to French troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney (MALI - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
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File photo of the gas field in Amenas, Algeria in this handout photo provided by Scanpix April 19, 2005. REUTERS/Kjetil Alsvik/Statoil via Scanpix

File photo of the gas field in Amenas, Algeria in this handout photo provided by Scanpix April 19, 2005. REUTERS/Kjetil Alsvik/Statoil via Scanpix
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A road sign indicating In Amenas, about 100 km (60 miles) from the Algerian and Libyan border, is seen in this undated picture provided by Norwegian oil company Statoil January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Kjetil Alsvik / Statoil/Handout

A road sign indicating In Amenas, about 100 km (60 miles) from the Algerian and Libyan border, is seen in this undated picture provided by Norwegian oil company Statoil January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Kjetil Alsvik / Statoil/Handout
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JOE PENNEY

Malian soldiers stand guard as Mali's President Dioncounda Traore speaks to French troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney (MALI - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)

Malian soldiers stand guard as Mali's President Dioncounda Traore speaks to French troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney (MALI - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
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JOE PENNEY

Ivory Coast army chief-of-staff Soumaila Bakayoko (L) and Malian army chief-of-staff Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele (C) inspect Malian troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney (MALI - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)

Ivory Coast army chief-of-staff Soumaila Bakayoko (L) and Malian army chief-of-staff Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele (C) inspect Malian troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney (MALI - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
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A general view of Norwegian oil firm Statoil headquarters in Stavanger, Norway in this picture provided by Scanpix January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Kent Skibstad/Scanpix

A general view of Norwegian oil firm Statoil headquarters in Stavanger, Norway in this picture provided by Scanpix January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Kent Skibstad/Scanpix
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French armoured vehicles make their way north of Bamako in this picture provided by the French Army on January 16, 2013. REUTERS/ECPAD/Arnaud Roine/Handout

French armoured vehicles make their way north of Bamako in this picture provided by the French Army on January 16, 2013. REUTERS/ECPAD/Arnaud Roine/Handout
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SCANPIX

Lars Christian Bacher, director for international affairs at Norwegian oil firm Statoil, gives a news conference in regards to the attack at gas field in Algeria, at Stavanger, Norway in this picture provided by Scanpix January 16, 2013. Islamist militants attacked a gas field in Algeria on Wednesday, claiming to have kidnapped up to 41 foreigners including seven Americans in a dawn raid in retaliation for France's intervention in...more

Lars Christian Bacher, director for international affairs at Norwegian oil firm Statoil, gives a news conference in regards to the attack at gas field in Algeria, at Stavanger, Norway in this picture provided by Scanpix January 16, 2013. Islamist militants attacked a gas field in Algeria on Wednesday, claiming to have kidnapped up to 41 foreigners including seven Americans in a dawn raid in retaliation for France's intervention in Mali, according to regional media reports. The gas field is operated by a joint venture including BP , Statoil and Algerian state company Sonatrach. At right is leader of secretariat Bjoern Otto Sverdrup. REUTERS/Kent Skibstad/Scanpix (NORWAY - Tags: POLITICS ENERGY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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SCANPIX

Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (R) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide give a news conference regarding the attack on Norwegian oil firm Statoil's gas field in Algeria, in Oslo in this picture provided by Scanpix January 15, 2013. Islamist militants attacked the gas field in Algeria on Wednesday, claiming to have kidnapped up to 41 foreigners including seven Americans in a dawn raid in retaliation for...more

Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (R) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide give a news conference regarding the attack on Norwegian oil firm Statoil's gas field in Algeria, in Oslo in this picture provided by Scanpix January 15, 2013. Islamist militants attacked the gas field in Algeria on Wednesday, claiming to have kidnapped up to 41 foreigners including seven Americans in a dawn raid in retaliation for France's intervention in Mali, according to regional media reports. The gas field is operated by a joint venture including BP , Statoil and Algerian state company Sonatrach. At right is leader of secretariat Bjoern Otto Sverdrup. REUTERS/Berit Roald/Scanpix (NORWAY - Tags: POLITICS ENERGY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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JOE PENNEY

French helicopters arrive at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. French troops launched their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six days of air strikes. REUTERS/Joe Penney (MALI - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CONFLICT TRANSPORT)

French helicopters arrive at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. French troops launched their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six days of air strikes. REUTERS/Joe Penney (MALI - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CONFLICT TRANSPORT)
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