Death Toll in Algeria Siege Continues to Climb

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The death toll from the terrorist siege at a natural gas plant in Algeria has climbed past 80.

Algerian special forces stormed the plant on Saturday to end the four-day siege by Islamist militants.

At least 81 people are reported dead, including many terrorists. Algeria's Prime Minister said at least 37 foreign hostages were among the dead.

The FBI has recovered the bodies of three Americans and has notified their families. Seven Americans made it out safely.

Hundreds of hostages were freed but nearly two dozen are still unaccounted for.

During the attack, an Al Qaeda commander sent a chilling message in Arabic:  "We will kill the American hostages here. We will not kill them. We will slaughter them."

Officials say the militants were heavily armed and were planning to blow up the facility.

The search is on for the man behind the attack, Moktar Belmoktar, founder of the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group The Masked Brigade.

In neighboring Mali, French forces are fighting to push back Belmoktar's group, which has been taking over that country.

About 200 French infantrymen, supported by six combat helicopters and reconnaissance planes, advanced Monday on the key town of Diabaly. That town was seized one week ago by Belmoktar's Islamist fighters.

The White House has admitted that al Qaeda and al Qaeda-affiliated groups are seeking safe haven in North Africa, where they pose a serious threat to governments in that region as well as other parts of the world.

One of the major themes of the president's re-election campaign was that the United States had Al Qaeda on the run. The tragedy in Algeria, coming just months after the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, is the latest sign that Al Qaeda is very much alive and testing the West.

"We didn't know for sure, for certain, it would be this particular place under those circumstances, but we knew what they were trying to complete: a target against a Western target, which clearly this was,"
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., on the House Intelligence Committee, said.

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