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American Forces Press Service

Obama: Blame for Algeria Tragedy Rests With Terrorists

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2013 – The nation's thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and injured in the terrorist attack in Algeria, and the blame for the tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out, President Barack Obama said today.

In a statement, the president said the United States condemns the terrorists' actions "in the strongest possible terms."

"We have been in constant contact with Algerian officials and stand ready to provide whatever assistance they need in the aftermath of this attack," Obama said. "We also will continue to work closely with all of our partners to combat the scourge of terrorism in the region, which has claimed too many innocent lives."

The attack is another reminder of the threat posed by al-Qaeda and other violent extremist groups in North Africa, the president said.

"In the coming days, we will remain in close touch with the government of Algeria to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so that we can work together to prevent tragedies like this in the future," he added.

During a news conference in London today, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said both of their governments remain in close contact with Algerian officials, and are working to establish firm details of the assault, kidnappings and murders that took place at a remote natural gas facility in Algeria.

Panetta confirmed Americans were among those held hostage, but he said the possible number of U.S. deaths remains unclear. He pledged continued close consultation with Algerian authorities, and emphasized the attackers bear full and sole responsibility for all loss of life.

'Just as we cannot accept terrorist attacks against our cities, we cannot accept attacks against our citizens and our interests abroad," he said. 'Neither can we accept an al-Qaida safe haven anywhere in the world."

Since 9/11, Panetta said, "We've made very clear that nobody is going to attack the United States of America and get away with it." The nation and its allies and partners have fought terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and will take the fight to North Africa as well, he said.

(Karen Parrish of American Forces Press Service, traveling with Panetta in London, contributed to this report.)

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