Skip to content
Subscriber Only

French Troops in Mali Show Africa's Importance

Satellite image of the Amenas gas field in Algeria on Oct. 8, 2012
Satellite image of the Amenas gas field in Algeria on Oct. 8, 2012Photograph by DigitalGlobe/AP Photo

When French President François Hollande dispatched troops to Mali this month, some wondered why he would put his countrymen’s lives at risk in a remote nation of 16 million whose gross domestic product is less than half that of Vermont.

Part of the answer has become clear this week as a deadly hostage crisis unfolds at a natural gas complex in neighboring Algeria. Although details are still unclear, some of the plant’s workers—including Americans, British, French, Irish, and Japanese—were killed after being taken hostage by terrorists on Jan. 16. Algerian officials said Friday that 60 hostages remain missing.