Top of the Morning: Hostages Killed in Algeria Rescue Operation; Scores Killed in Attacks Across Iraq Targeting Shias; Mali’s Child Soldiers

Top stories from DAWNS Digest

Hostages Killed in Algeria Rescue Operation; Hostage Situation at Oil Plant

Several dozen international workers at an oil facility in a remote part of Algeria were rescued, but some killed. Details remain hazy after a wide range of reports emerged Thursday morning. “The Algerian government on Thursday launched a high-stakes military strike against Islamist militants who took scores of hostages including Americans at an international gas complex in the Sahara, with reports on the ground suggesting a tragedy of some scale had unfolded in the desert.” (WaPo

Breaking News updates on the unfolding situation: (CNN

Scores Killed in Attacks Across Iraq Targeting Shias

A wave of sectarian attacks is threatening to seriously undermine the Shia-lead government. “Insurgents in Iraq unleashed a string of bomb attacks targeting Shiite Muslim pilgrims across Iraq on Thursday, killing scores on a third straight day of violence. Pakistan’s Daily Times put the death toll from violence across the country over three days at 71. The paper cited weeks of anti-government protests and a ‘political crisis engulfing the country.’ Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is facing increasing opposition to his rule, with even government partners calling for his ouster.” (Global Post

Children Play Role in Islamist Fight in Mali

Residents and human rights groups say that children are taking an active role in the Islamists’ war effort by doing tasks ranging from fighting to staffing checkpoints. “Oumar Diakité, a resident of Konna in Mopti Region, central Mali, which Islamist groups tried to capture on 11 January prompting intervention by French forces, told IRIN: “Young children have been recruited. These children are sent on scouting missions to collect intelligence… And during clashes, they put these children – often just Koranic students – into the front line.” Konna has still not been recaptured, according to French military sources.” (IRIN