Algeria will be hoping its no-nonsense approach to the In Amenas crisis means al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its affiliates look for easier targets in future. The death toll from the 16 January attack on Algeria’s 8bcm/year In Amenas gas plant and subsequent siege has risen to at least 37 foreign workers.
The fact that militants managed to take the plant despite a heavy local Algerian military presence – including attack helicopters and a unit of T72 tanks – is something of an embarrassment to Algiers. However if the attackers’ aims were anything approaching the Algerian authorities’ claims – kill all the foreigners and blow up the plant – then Algeria can claim the final outcome as something of a victory. Algiers with its iron response has reason to hope militants will think twice before mounting a repeat performance. (CONTINUED - 2248 WORDS)