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Fri Oct 31 16:19:46 SAST 2014

Japan to give $120 million to stabilise Sahel region

Sapa | 29 January, 2013 10:14
Three attackers (rear R) stand guard in front of foreigners that were taken hostage, while Algerians (L) are left alone at an accommodation unit of the plant at a gas plant in In Amenas, in this photo secretly taken by one of the Algerians held hostage on January 16, 2013 and released by Kyodo on January 23, 2013.
Image by: KYODO / REUTERS/Handout

Japan said Tuesday it would give $120 million of new cash to help stabilise the Islamist-infested Sahel region of North Africa, days after 10 Japanese were killed when jihadists stormed an Algerian gas plant.

"The Japanese government plans to give an additional $120 million to help stabilise Mali and the Sahel region," Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said. "This is to help the region to strengthen governance and security, including aid for peacekeeping operations."

Japan was hit hard by the four-day siege in the Algerian desert, when heavily-armed militants took hundreds of people hostage.

The stand-off ended in bloodshed when Algerian commandos stormed the plant, with some reports talking of summary executions of hostages in the final firefight.

Of the at least 37 foreigners known to have died, Japan's toll of 10 was the highest of any country whose nationals were caught up in the siege.

All of the Japanese who died were employed by plant engineering firm JGC, which, along with a number of other similar firms from resource-starved Japan, is active in North Africa.

"We expect this aid to help strengthen the AFISMA mission and abate the poverty that could breed terrorism," Kishida said, referring to the African-led International Support Mission to Mali, which has UN Security Council backing.

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