Sunday, January 27, 2013 1:47 pm
Correction: Davos Forum-Algeria story
The Associated Press
A corrected version of the story is below:
AP Interview: Algeria needs international help
AP Interview: Algeria needs international help fighting terrorism
By MARTIN BENEDYK
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) - Algeria's foreign minister said Algeria will need international help to fight terrorism in the wake of a hostage crisis at a Saharan gas plant in which dozens of foreign workers were killed.
Algeria's decision to refuse foreign offers of aid in handling the crisis, and to send the military to fire on vehicles full of hostages, drew widespread international criticism.
While defending his government's handling of the crisis, Mourad Medelci said Algeria can't face international terrorism alone.
"It absolutely needs support," Medelci told The Associated Press in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.
"This is Algeria's message: Algeria faced internal terrorism alone but it can't continue to face international terrorism alone," he said. "It absolutely needs support and this is needed not just by Algeria, but all countries need to join into the fight against terrorism. "
The Jan. 16 attack, which an al-Qaida-affiliated organization has claimed responsibility for, sent scores of foreign energy workers fleeing across the desert for their lives. A four-day siege by Algerian forces on the complex followed. At least 37 hostages and 29 militants died.
Medelci defended the government's decision to attack instead of negotiating, pointing to its years of experience dealing with Islamist extremist violence.
"Faced with such an attitude (of terrorism), it's not just words that solve the problem. It's action," he said.
"I am not sure that today we are in the process of assessing our mistakes," Medelci said. "We are more in the process of establishing that the operation succeeded."
The minister said Algeria is likely to reinforce security measures at sites where multinationals operate in the oil- and gas-rich country. But he insisted that foreign workers in Algeria "will continue to work in Algeria and that is the best way to answer the terrorists."
He argued that Algeria wasn't the target of the attack. Instead, he said, the terrorists were targeting investors and the foreigners who work for them.
An international group of militants led by a Mali-based warlord staged the attack. The extremists demanded an end to the French-led military operation in neighboring Mali, where al-Qaida-linked groups seized control of the north last year.
AP correspondent Angela Charlton contributed from Davos.