Wednesday’s assault by militants on a BP plant in Algeria may be a direct retaliation for a Tuesday attack by French ground forces on Islamist rebels in Mali, sources report.
Up to 2,500 French forces have been deployed to Mali under the command of French chief of military staff Edouard Guillaud, along with tanks and artillery pieces. Thirteen nations, including Nigeria, have lent soldiers or supplies to the effort to dislodge the rebels from the vast desert that covers the majority of the north of Mali.
Algeria supports the French operation to eliminate the rebels, who are reported to have banned music and implemented a harsh code of fundamentalist law that extends to flogging 12 year old girls and pregnant women for not covering up.
The Algerian army has deployed troops on the scene. An Algerian diplomatic liaison in France has confirmed that the rebels have complete control of the facility and have deployed mines to prevent interference by security forces.