Japan gives $120m to stabilise Sahel region

2013-01-29 07:47
Road sign near the In Amenas gas field. (Picture: AFP)

Road sign near the In Amenas gas field. (Picture: AFP)

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Tokyo - Japan said on Tuesday it would give $120m 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 $120m 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 fire fight.

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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