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PARIS MATCH (France), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

PARIS – The Islamist militant group behind the deadly hostage crisis at an Algerian gas plant that killed dozens of foreigners last week has threatened to carry out new attacks, especially against France.

In a phone call to French weekly magazine Paris Match, a spokesman for Mokhtar Belmokhtar – the man behind the terrorist attack at the In Amenas gas plant that killed an estimated 38 foreigners and one Algerian worker according to Reuters – said the operation had been "90% successful, because with only 40 men, we managed to hit a strategic site guarded by 800 soldiers."

The spokesman, who called himself Joulaybib, but whom Paris Match identified as Hacen Ould Khalil, Belmokhtar’s right-hand man, warned: "I hope France realizes that there are going to be dozens of Mohammed Merahs and Khaled Kelkals."

Mohammed Merah was a French Al-Qaeda sympathiser who killed seven people in the southern city of Toulouse last year; Khaled Kelkal was an Algerian terrorist involved in a series of terror bombings in France in the 1990s.

"The attack in In Amenas is only the beginning," Joulaybib added.

Paris Match also reports that the spokesman claimed his group contacted the French authorities for negotiations even before the Algerian army launched an assault on the facility – a fact that France denies.

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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 224: Russia Says U.S. Is Now "A Participant Of The Conflict"

The warning comes after Washington's latest military aid package to Ukraine.

In Stavropol, Russia

Anna Akage, Sophia Constantino, Jeff Israely and Bertrand Hauger

Washington’s new $625 military aid package to Kyiv has increased the likelihood of a direct military clash between the Russia and the West, warned Anatoly Antonov, Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S.

"We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country," Antonov said early Wednesday via a post on Telegram. "The supply of military products by the U.S. and its allies not only entails protracted bloodshed and new casualties, but also increases the danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries.” Antonov said the U.S. is now considered a “participant of the conflict.”

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The United States announced this week that it is sending $625 million to Ukraine in additional weaponry, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, emphasizing Washington’s continued support for Kyiv “as it defends itself from Russian aggression for as long as it takes,” a statement from the White House said.

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