An American hostage was confirmed dead Friday amid uncertainty over the fate of other foreigners held at an Algerian gas plant, with their captors demanding a prisoner swap and an end to French military action in Mali.
The White House and the US Defense Department are at odds over the danger posed by radical Islamic groups that have taken control of parts of Mali and are stirring up trouble in other parts of West Africa.
The United States was rocked Thursday by a new crisis spurred by Islamic militants amid a deadly hostage-taking in Algeria, prompting warnings to US interests in north Africa to boost security.
Western governments voiced alarm over the fate of dozens of foreigners seized by Islamists at a gas plant in the Algerian desert after several hostages were killed in a dramatic rescue operation.
Britain is working "very closely at all levels" with Algeria after one of its citizens was reportedly killed and several others seized during an attack on an Algerian gas field, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday.
President Francois Hollande arrives in Algeria on Wednesday seeking to end simmering resentment over French colonial rule and bolster ties with the OPEC country.
A coalition of Malian political parties and a citizen's association based in the Islamist-occupied north on Sunday objected to Algeria and Burkina Faso's role in mediating their country's crisis.
Algerian celebrations to mark 50 years since gaining independence from France kicked off on Wednesday with a giant open air performance inspired by the liberation struggle, followed by nationwide fireworks displays.