UK

Newspaper review: Algeria kidnappings response considered

  • 20 January 2013
  • From the section UK
Sunday newspapers

After the bloody end to the hostage crisis in Algeria, the papers ask, what now?

The Daily Star Sunday is one of several to demand more robust action. It says those behind the attacks "must be dealt with - today".

Former defence secretary Liam Fox appears to agree. In the Mail on Sunday, he argues that the West needs to "reach out" to groups seeking peace and stability - but use "lethal force" against those who threaten security.

"The guns are silent," says the Independent on Sunday, "but the dead are still to be counted."

In the absence of hard information, all the papers patch together their accounts of the shocking violence that has been taking place in the remote and unknown landscape of the Algerian Sahara.

Under the headline, "Desert bloodbath," the Sunday Times makes full use of dramatic photographs and explanatory graphics.

It tries to shape the four-day long crisis into some kind of narrative - and the survivors set out what the paper calls "tales of savage cruelty".

Final assault

According to the Sunday Mirror, there were threats from the kidnappers that all the remaining hostages would be killed.

The kidnappers, says the Mail on Sunday, had become "increasingly desperate" and were thought to be contemplating suicide. The Daily Star Sunday says the "would-be rescuers closed in".

It was then, says the Sunday Times, that the Algerian special forces "known as The Ninjas" launched a final assault.

As they attacked, the kidnappers began to shoot their remaining captives, says the Sunday Express. Events moved, in the words of the Mail, towards their "monstrous conclusion."

And the crisis, says the Independent, ended as it had begun - "in a jolting surge of bloodshed that left both the innocent and guilty dead".

The historian Mark Almond - in the Mail - sees the BP state-of-the-art gas facility "in the middle of Algerian nowhere" as a symbol of Western Europe's isolation from the "growing chaos" of north Africa.

He points out that ordinary people there "have seen little or no benefit" from the extraction of the region's natural resources.

The Times looks at the reasons why Britons and other foreigners choose to work there.

"The pay is good," it says, "often more than a hundred thousand pounds a year tax-free."

But "the heat can be intolerable", there are sandstorms and locusts, scorpions hide in your shoes, the accommodation looks like "a prison camp," and life "can hardly be described as fun".

Burgers shock

The Sun looks at the "embarrassing farce" into which Heathrow airport has descended - a "shambles that shames Britain."

"Bloody appalling" is the headline in the Sunday Mirror, which wants to know why "this crucial airport is still not able to cope with a little snow". It condemns the operating company as "run by flaky fatcats".

Whatever Lance Armstrong's motives may have been for his televised confession, the Independent thinks it "could pay dividends" - perhaps an easing of the ban imposed on him.

The Times is in no mood to forgive him though, saying he cheated his way to victory, and bullied his team-mates.

"He has made us all feel more cynical about sport," it says, and believes that "he deserves to be pursued through the courts and banned from competitive sport for life".

The discovery of horse-meat in supermarket burgers continues to send shockwaves through the press - but French chef Raymond Blanc, in the Mail, can't understand why.

In the Telegraph, Clarissa Dickson Wright does understand the fuss, but points out the English ate horses for centuries - despite the best efforts of King Alfred to preserve the animals for his cavalry to ride.

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