Panetta says 'terrorists' have no place to hide
"Terrorists" who attack US interests have no place to hide, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday as fears grew for dozens of foreigners taken hostage by Islamists at a gas plant in Algeria.
"Terrorists should be on notice that they will find no sanctuary, no refuge. Not in Algeria, not in north Africa, not anywhere," Panetta said in a speech at Kings College London university.
"Those who would wantonly attack our country and our people will have no place to hide," added the defense secretary, who was in London as part of a visit to several European capitals.
He added that US officials were "working around the clock" to secure the safe return of an unknown number of Americans who were among those taken hostage at the remote In Amenas gas plant in southern Algeria.
"Regardless of the motivation of the hostage takers, there is no justification for the kidnapping and murder of innocent people," Panetta said.
"We will continue to be in close consultation with the Algerian government," he added.
British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said the premier would meet with Panetta later on Friday for unscheduled talks to discuss the Algerian crisis as well as the conflicts in Mali, Syria and Afghanistan.
Cameron had been due in The Netherlands on Friday where he had planned a major speech on Britain's relationship with the European Union, but cancelled it late Thursday to deal with the Algerian crisis.
Panetta is also due to give a press conference with his British counterpart Philip Hammond on Saturday.