Three Britons dead in Algeria attack, Cameron tells MPs


Three British nationals were killed in the Algerian hostage attack and a further three are believed to be dead, along with a Colombian who lived in the UK, David Cameron has confirmed.

The prime minister told the Commons the top priority was to bring home the bodies of the victims, but cautioned it might take some time.

He was addressing MPs on 21 January 2013 on the "despicable" crisis that unfolded from 16 January at the remote In Amenas gas field near Algeria's border with Libya.

Opposition leader Ed Miliband said the whole country was "shocked" by the "unprovoked and violent attack" and pledged Labour's full support to the government's response.

Algeria's prime minister has said 37 foreigners from eight nationalities and one Algerian worker were killed in the four-day siege at the gas plant.

He said 29 of the Islamist kidnappers had been killed and three were captured alive.

Mr Cameron, who was flanked by deputy PM Nick Clegg and Foreign Secretary William Hague in the Commons, said the "resolve" shown by Algerian security services in dealing with the terrorist attack should be acknowledged.

He pledged that British intelligence and counter-terrorism assets would play their role in an international effort to "find and dismantle" the terrorist network responsible for the massacre.

The PM also told MPs he would use the UK's chairmanship of the G8 group of richest countries to focus on the threat of terrorism.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Conservative chair of parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, praised the PM's "sober and realistic" response to the crisis.

He called for a "political, not merely a military strategy" to beat extremists in North Africa.

Sir Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Essex, asked the PM whether it was "prudent and in Britain's interest" to cut the size of armed forces.

Under the terms of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Navy and the RAF have to cut 5,000 jobs each by 2015; the Army 7,000 and the Ministry of Defence 25,000 civilian staff.

Mr Cameron said the government had had to take "difficult" decisions on defence but he it was "frustrating" when people focused on overall numbers in the armed forces rather than on the "capabilities that we have".

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