Blame game begins after British deaths in Algeria siege climax
The world must respond with "iron resolve" to the terrorist threat after the deaths of six British nationals at the climax of the Algerian hostage crisis, David Cameron has said.
Three British citizens are confirmed dead and three more are missing and believed to have died after yesterday's bloody end to the siege at the In Amenas gas facility. A British resident also died.
Questions are now being asked about the Algerian government's handling of the situation, but Cameron and foreign secretary William Hague both played down the blame game in their comments this morning.
"Of course people will ask questions about the Algerian response to these events, but I would just say the responsibility for these deaths lies squarely with the terrorists who've launched this vicious and cowardly attack," the prime minister said this morning.
"When you're dealing with a terrorist incident on this scale it is extremely difficult to respond and get this right in every respect. This is a stark reminder from the threat we face from terrorism the world over."
Cameron said the Algerian prime minister and his government feared the terrorists were planning to blow up the entire gas installation, leading them to believe the lives of the hostages were in imminent danger.
"It's important not to jump into conclusions," Hague urged on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.
He said the British should show "solidarity" with the Algerians, who he pointed out had also lost their nationals.
"All of my sympathy and thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones in this appalling act of terror," leader of the opposition Ed Miliband said.
"The victims were people simply trying to make a living far from home and their families.
"People across Britain will be thinking of them and their families… we support all efforts by the government to identify those who planned this attack and bring them to justice."
The British government's focus is on longer-term solutions to the unstable Sahel region, which has also seen France intervene military in neighbouring Mali against Islamist insurgents this month.
Hague said humanitarian aid and counter-terrorism work went hand-in-hand in Britain's response to the region, which he said he been an "emerging problem" for some time.
He argued against the deployment of British troops to the region, saying it was up to the countries in the Sahel to address their own problems on their own terms.
"The primary way of operating has to be through the countries of the region… so that the people and leaders of that region own the solution," he argued.
Cameron said the struggle against terrorism had seen some successes in recent years, alluding to the death of Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
But he acknowledged the threat had grown in North Africa before calling for a "global response".
"It requires a response that is patient, painstaking, tough but also intelligence and above all has an absolutely iron resolve," the prime minister continued.
"It will also require countries to work together. I will use our chairmanship of the G8 this year to make sure this issue is right at the top of the agenda where it belongs."
Twenty-two other British nationals who were at the facility in the Sahara Desert have been flown back to the UK and are now being reunited with their loved ones.