Algeria: 32 militants killed, with 23 hostages

FILE - This Jan. 14, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama speakig in the East Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama is tightening the political screws on congressional Republicans on issues where he feels he has more leverage, chiefly the debt ceiling and immigration. By taking a more hardline stance, the usually accommodating Obama is gambling that public opinion is on his side, and Republicans will have to yield. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) -- Algeria's response to the hostage crisis at a natural gas complex in the Sahara desert is typical of its history in confronting terrorists, favoring military action over negotiation.

At first the action caused an international outcry.

Algerian military forces twice assaulted the two areas where the hostages were being held by Islamist extremists -- first on Thursday, then on Saturday.

In the bloody finale, special forces stormed the complex, leaving at least 23 hostages dead and killing all 32 militants.

Algeria's Interior Ministry says the action was taken "to avoid a bloody turn of events." It says the terrorists first tried to flee with the hostages and then blow up the gas facilities.

The ministry says 685 Algerian and 107 foreigner workers were freed over the course of the four-day standoff.

French President Francois Hollande (frahn-SWAH' oh-LAWND') is backing Algeria's tough tactics, saying they were "the most adapted response to the crisis."

President Barack Obama says the attack "is another reminder of the threat posed by al-Qaida and other violent extremist groups in North Africa." He says the U.S. stands ready to provide whatever assistance is needed in the wake of the attack

The U.N. Security Council is condemning the terrorist attack and says all perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of such "reprehensible acts" must be brought to justice.

AP-WF-01-20-13 0119GMT

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