American military chief Leon Panetta has threatened that the US will take whatever moves necessary to protect “our people” from threats of al-Qaeda-linked militants in North Africa.
The outgoing US Defense Secretary issued the warning in a BBC interview in London, declaring that the United States would "take all necessary steps to protect our people" from the threat of militants in North Africa, who he alleged were tied to the shadowy al-Qaeda terrorist group.
"Whether or not that involves assisting others with military operations, whether it involves developing in a cooperative way operations there, those are areas that I think remain to be decided,” Panetta further said.
Panetta was interviewed by state-owned British Broadcasting Corporation on the recent hostage crisis in Algeria, where Americans are reported to be part of a group of foreign workers killed or still held in captivity in a gas field owned by British Petroleum.
The head of the Pentagon is currently visiting Britain as part of his ongoing tour of European countries.
Panetta has previously made clear that the US supports the French military intervention in the North African country of Mali by carrying out various forms of aerial reconnaissance, refueling and troop transport missions.
Other US officials have been quoted as saying in press reports that limited number of American forces have also been deployed in the African country to train and advice Malian military forces.