Algeria mulls international force for hostage standoff; contacts potential negotiators

Associated Press

ALGIERS, Algeria - An Algerian security official says the government is in talks with the United States and France over whether an international force can help in a standoff with Islamist militants who have taken dozens of foreigners hostage in a natural gas complex deep in the Sahara.

A militant group that claimed responsibility said 41 foreigners — including seven Americans — were captive in the complex, which is now surrounded by Algerian soldiers and helicopters.

The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the attack, said Algerian officials also contacted tribal elders among Algerian Tuaregs, who are believed to have close ties with Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida. The official said the government hoped the Tuaregs might help negotiate an end to the standoff.

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