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Panetta Says U.S. and Europe Allies Assessing Algeria Situation

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Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the U.S. is working with the U.K. and other allies to gather more information on the hostage taking and rescue operation in Algeria.

“We are working very closely with the British government and other nations to assess precisely what’s happening on the ground” in Algeria “even as we continue to try and gather better information about what’s happening,” Panetta said in remarks at King’s College London today. He is in the British capital to meet with his U.K. counterparts.

Panetta did not offer more information on the number of hostages including Americans who were taken in Algeria and details of the rescue attempt by Algerian forces.

Calling the hostage taking an act of terror, Panetta said those responsible had no justification for the “kidnapping and murder of innocent people.” The U.S. will deny sanctuary to terrorists in any part of the world, Panetta said.

“Those who would wantonly attack our country and our people will have no place to hide,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at gratnam1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Atkinson at a.atkinson@bloomberg.net