Algeria and Mali
Americans believed among hostages at Algeria plant - W.House
WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The White House said on Thursday it believed Americans were among the hostages held by militants at an Algerian gas plant, was concerned about reports of loss of life in an operation by Algerian forces and was seeking clarification from the Algerian government.
"This is an ongoing situation and we are seeking clarity," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters when asked about the Algerian military operation to break the desert siege. President Barack Obama was being briefed regularly by his national security team, he said.
Carney said the U.S. government was still trying to determine the number of casualties and who they were, and was also in touch with BP officials in London. He said there was no immediate confirmation of al Qaeda links to the hostage situation and Washington was trying to find out what group was behind it.
BRUSSELS Britain need not send a formal letter to the European Union to trigger a two-year countdown to its exit from the bloc, EU officials said, implying British Prime Minister David Cameron could start the process when he speaks at a summit on Tuesday.