Why the Algerian Gas Plant Didn't Have Armed Guards

Officials differ on whether more security could have stopped large attack
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2013 10:39 AM CST
This is a April 19, 2005 file photo released by Statoil via NTB scanpix, showing the Ain Amenas gas field in Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Kjetil Alsvik, Statoil via NTB scanpix, File)

(Newser) – The companies that run the Algerian gas plant overrun by militants last week decided against deploying armed guards in the large compound, depending instead on government patrols in the area and steel wire fences for protection, reports the New York Times. Many experts think an armed force, common at many production and drilling facilities in the region, could have slowed the attack and allowed more workers to get away. "The attack clearly caught everybody by surprise," said one consultant.

Algerian officials counter that the size and organization of the attack would have made it very difficult to resist. But security experts say the important thing is to slow attacks, not necessarily stop them entirely, to give the government time to react. "To re-create confidence, it will take a lot of hand-holding with insurance companies, service companies, and investment bankers," said another oil executive. Click to read about one survivor's harrowing escape through the desert. (Read more Algeria stories.)

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