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American hostages taken in Algeria

Leon Panetta has said the U.S. will take “necessary and proper” steps.

A number of hostages seized by an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group are Americans, U.S. officials confirmed Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told his traveling press corps in Italy that American citizens were among those taken hostage in a terrorist attack in Algeria, according to the Associated Press. State Department officials also confirmed they were monitoring the crisis.

AP reports put the number of American hostages at seven. A spokesman for the extremist group said Japanese, British, and French citizens were also taken, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The militants are from Mali and have reportedly taken 41 hostages in all during seizure of an Algerian oil field. The field is operated by BP and several other foreign energy companies.

Panetta has said the U.S. government will take “necessary and proper” steps to recover the American hostages.



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Hope Hodge first covered military issues for the Daily News of Jacksonville, N.C., where her beat included the sprawling Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. During her two years at the paper, she received investigative reporting awards for exposing a former Marine who was using faked military awards to embezzle disability pay from the government and for breaking news about the popularity of the designer drug Spice in the ranks. Her work has also appeared in The American Spectator, New York Sun, WORLD Magazine, and The Washington Post. Hodge was born near Boston, Mass., where she grew up as a lover of Revolutionary War history and fall foliage. She also discovered a love of politics and policy as a grassroots volunteer and activist on Beacon Hill. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King's College in New York City, where she served as editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and worked as a teaching assistant when not freelancing or using student discounts to see Broadway shows. Hope??s email is