Algeria. A bloody hostage frame was played in January at
the Tigantourine natural gas plant near the border with
Libya. Thirty heavy-armed members of a breakaway faction
from Islamic Jihadist al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
stormed the facility on January 16 and besieged it.
Almost 800 employees were taken hostage, among them 134
foreigners from 26 countries. The jihadists demanded that
the French offensive against Islamist separatists in Mali be
stopped. Algerian special forces were deployed and after two
days of confused fighting, the special forces had control of
the plant. By then, at least 79 of the employees had been
killed, most of them Algerians but also ten Japanese, six
British and five Norwegians. 39 jihadists were also killed
and three arrested. The tigantourine plant, which produces
10% of Algeria's natural gas, is operated by a joint venture
with the state-owned Algerian oil company Sonatrach,
together with British BP and Norwegian Statoil.
Countryaah, the country's president since 1999, Abdelaziz Bouteflika,
spent three months between April and July in hospitals in
France, reportedly for care after a stroke.
Several groups of organized unemployed youth demonstrated
in March in a number of places in southern Algeria and
Algeria with demands for more jobs for young people. The
government responded by promising certain measures.
An Algerian doctor was sentenced in May to 12 years in
prison for having taken children away and selling them as
adoptive children to France. Seven other people were also
sentenced to prison for interference, six of them in their