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PM angry with Algeria: ex-diplomat

A former UK ambassador to Algeria said David Cameron would be angry about the Algerian decision to launch a military raid without consulting the leaders of countries with citizens being held hostage.

Graham Hand, who was the UK's senior diplomat in Algiers from 2002 to 2004, said he was sure the terrorist action was in response to the French intervention in Mali, which has been supported by the British.

Mr Cameron was told that an operation was under way only when he telephoned the Algerian prime minister at 11.30am on Thursday.

Asked whether the Algerian government would launch an assault without consulting foreign leaders, Mr Hand told Channel 4 News: "I'm afraid it's perfectly possible, that sort of thing has happened in the past.

"I think it's very disappointing, I'm sure the Prime Minister is right to be angry about it. I feel certain the British ambassador in Algiers has expressed the Prime Minister's views."

Foreign Secretary William Hague earlier questioned whether the terrorist attack was really linked to the Mali intervention, pointing out that such a complex operation would have taken some time to plan.

"There is no excuse for such behaviour, whatever excuse they may claim," he said.

"It is absolutely unacceptable, of course. It is, in this case, the cold-blooded murder of people going about their business. So there is no excuse, whether it be connected to Libya, Mali or anywhere else."

But Mr Hand said: "I have to think that it's linked to Mali, for the simple reason that this is a most unusual thing to happen.

"There are many, many oil and gas installations in the Algerian desert and I am not aware of any serious occurrences previously for years and suddenly we get this.

"There have been instances of hostage-taking among tourists but not hitting the oil and gas installations.

"So I think it's deliberate and it's tied."

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