Newspaper review: North Africa terror threat dominates


David Cameron's warning of a lengthy battle against Islamist extremists in north Africa dominates many of the front pages.

"New front opens in war against al-Qaeda," is the headline in the Times.

The Guardian says the PM's words are recognition that the dynamics of the region have irrevocably changed in the wake of the Arab spring.

There are tributes to the Britons killed during the hostage crisis in Algeria.

The Daily Telegraph describes how Paul Morgan, a former soldier in the French Foreign Legion, instinctively fought back against the al-Qaeda kidnappers when they attacked a bus taking him to an airport near the gas plant.

Mr Morgan - the first of the British victims to have been officially named - had just finished a one-month stint in charge of security at the site.

The Guardian says one of the most fortunate survivors must surely be 37-year-old BP worker Alan Wright.

He has spoken of how he hid from the attackers and then made his escape with Algerian co-workers who cut their way through a fence.

Accent clue

According to the Daily Mail, all the British survivors are now being questioned by security officials as part of efforts to identify the militants.

The paper says at least two Britons are known to have been part of the group run by Mokhtar Belmokhtar - the man described by the Mail as the "one-eyed mastermind" of the raid.

In particular, MI5 and MI6 are said to be interested in one hostage-taker who apparently had a perfect English accent.

The main story for the Financial Times is a report that middle-class professionals are to be targeted in a new crackdown on tax evasion.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, tells the paper that he's planning to "ramp up" the number of tax files considered by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The focus will be on tax consultants who push dishonest schemes - and those who invest in them.

The FT says that in a speech on Tuesday, Mr Starmer is expected to dispel the idea that tax evasion is a victimless crime. He will warn that tax cheats cost each household more than £500 a year in lost revenue.

Second term

Many of the papers look ahead to what President Obama will have to say when he speaks later at the ceremony marking his inauguration for a second term.

The Independent says that, despite the downbeat mood, Mr Obama now has an historic opportunity to make progress on issues such as the economy and gun control.

After what it calls a "timid" first term, the Daily Mirror gives a warning that the president will have to flex his muscles if he wants to achieve more than just being the first black man to enter the White House.

The Times reports that there's a ray of hope for people unable to use their HMV gift cards after the music and DVD retailer went into administration.

Resolving the issue is now said to be a priority for administrators Deloitte, who are in talks with the record companies.

The paper says the outcome is important because it will affect the scale of losses faced by suppliers, whose support will be vital for any business that survives administration.

Finally, amid all the talk of Arctic weather in Britain, the Daily Express has a heart-warming story of what it calls the ultimate white wedding.

Shropshire farmer Jim Jones made sure that he got to the church on time by hopping on a tractor to drive through deep snow. He also cleared a path for some of the guests.

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