"The chances are that this may not be a one-off event, that there could be other attempts in Africa — especially north and western Africa — to directly target foreign interests," he said (Sajjan Gohel, the international security director for the Asia-Pacific Foundation). "It's unclear as to what fate these individuals may meet, whether these terrorists are going to want a ransom or whether they'll utilize this for propaganda purposes."
Attacks on oil-rich Algeria's hydrocarbon facilities are very rare, despite decades of fighting an Islamist insurgency, mostly in northern Algeria.
In the last several years, however, al-Qaida's influence in the poorly patrolled desert of southern Algeria and northern Mali and Niger has grown and the group operates smuggling and kidnapping networks throughout the area. Militant groups that seized control of a vast section of northern Mali last year already hold seven French hostages as well as four Algerian diplomats.