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Algeria

Islamists In Algeria Kill Two, Take Western Hostages In Raid Linked To Mali War

EL WATAN (Algeria), LE MONDE,AFP (France)

Worldcrunch

Two people were killed and as many as 41 Westerners were taken hostage in an attack Wednesday by an Islamist group at a gas treatment facility in Algeria.

A British citizen and an Algerian are believed to be dead and six other people wounded in the assault early Wednesday morning at a plant jointly run by by the Algerian state oil company Sonatrach, Norway's Statoil and British Petroleum, AFP reports.

Local media reports say the raid in Tigantourine, 1600 kilometers southeast of the capital of Algiers, is a response to France's recent launching of air and ground assault in neighboring Mali to oust Islamic rebels who control the northern part of that country.

Algerian daily El Watan reports that the raid took place at 5 a.m. local time, with the heavily armed attackers arriving in three vehicles and targeting a bus transporting foreign workers at the gas treatment facility. Among the foreign nationals reported to be held hostage are Americans, British, Japanese and Norwegians.

Speaking on national television Wednesday night, Algerian Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said authorities would not negotiate with the captors, El Watan reported. Kablia said authorities put the current number of Western hostages "around 20."

The group taking responsibility has links to the well-known terrorist outfit Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is allied with the Islamist rebels that have taken over vast swaths of territory in northern Mali. Last Friday, France launched a major military operation to oust the Islamist rebels.

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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