Canadian police confirm identity of Algeria attackers, seek help

Thu Apr 4, 2013 4:31pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Police on Thursday confirmed the identity of two young Canadians who took part in a violent attack on an Algerian gas plant in January and asked the public to help them find out how the two left the country.

Around 70 people, including the two Canadians, were killed when Algerian troops stormed the Tigantourine desert gas plant and ended the siege. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police identified the two men as Xristos Katsiroubas and Ali Medlej.

Canadian media say Katsiroubas, 22, and Medlej, 24, were high school friends from London, in the central Canadian province of Ontario.

Marc Richer, a spokesman for the RCMP, said the force wanted to hear from anyone who knew how the two men had left Canada and who might have helped them.

"People tend to look to the police and the police having all the answers. The reality is we need the public's help. This is a community issue. Everybody has a role to play in this," he told a news conference.

The RCMP was also seeking information about anyone else who might be contemplating terrorist plots abroad, he added.

Richer said police had been investigating the two men for a number of months but did not give details.

He declined to confirm media reports that Aaron Yoon, a former schoolmate of the two men, had left Canada with them and was under arrest in the West African nation of Mauritania.   Continued...

An Algerian soldier stands at a checkpoint near a road sign indicating 10 km (6 miles) to a gas installation in Tigantourine (sometimes spelled Tiguentourine), the site where Islamist militants held foreigners hostage according to the Algerian interior ministry, in Amena January 19, 2013. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina (ALGERIA - Tags: ENERGY POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)