The threat of extremism in North Africa could be "much worse" if the West had not intervened in Libya, William Hague has warned.

The Foreign Secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the spread of weapons across the region and the likelihood of further terror attacks would have been increased if Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had not been deposed.

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Men look at the wreckage of a vehicle near Ain Amenas, Algeria

His comments came as David Cameron prepared to update MPs on the current situation in Algeria, as officials work to establish the fate of the remaining missing Brits.


Andrew Neil
News from Algeria gets worse: another 20 bodies found, some disfigured beyond recognition. Reuters reports 48 hostages dead in total

Hague told the BBC: "Certainly weapons, Tuareg people coming out of Libya have contributed to this situation that then al Qaida in the Maghreb have been able to take advantage of."

"We were involved, if you recall, in saving lives in Libya. I think, actually, if we had not been doing that, because what we did actually shortened the Libyan conflict, these problems would have been, if anything, even greater.

"If the Libyan conflict had gone on for longer, there would have been an even greater flow of weapons and an even greater opportunity for extremists to take hold in Libya."

He added: "While the Libyan situation may well have contributed to what has happened in Mali, I think the action that the Western world took in Libya, if anything, mitigated that."

Hague said Somalia was a model for Western policy-makers, stressing the progress the country had made towards stability.

"What we do not want in these countries like Mali is that 20 years of failed state that preceded all of that in Somalia," he added.

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Paul Morgan, one of the hostages who died during the four-day siege

Three British nationals are now known to have died in the four-day siege of the In Amenas gas field in Algeria, which finally ended on Saturday, and three more are believed to be dead. A UK resident is also thought to have died.

The Algerian authorities warned on Sunday night that the confirmed toll of 23 hostages killed at the facility was set to rise sharply.

The first of the British victims to be officially named was 46-year-old Paul Morgan, reported to be a former Foreign Legion soldier and Gulf War veteran who was in charge of security at the In Amenas plant.

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Cameron has described the terrorist attack as 'vicious and cowardly'

Morgan was described by his mother Marianne, 65, and partner Emma Steele, 36, as a "true gentleman" who died doing the job he loved.

In a statement they said: "Paul was a true gentleman, a family man, he very much loved his partner Emma, his mum, brothers and sister, of whom he was very proud.

"He loved life and lived it to the full. He was a professional man proud to do the job he did and died doing the job he loved.

"We are so proud of him and so proud of what he achieved in his life. We are devastated by Paul's death and he will be truly missed.

"We would like to thank the Family Support officers who are helping us through this difficult time."

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The kidnappers are linked to a terrorist splinter group led by veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar

Others were reported to be Scot Kenneth Whiteside, a 59-year-old from Glenrothes, Fife, who lived in Johannesburg with his wife and two daughters, and Garry Barlow, 49, a married father of two from Liverpool who was a system supervisor for BP at the In Amenas plant.

Carlos Estrada, a Colombian executive for BP who lived in Chelsea, west London, is also reported to have died.

Bomb squads searching for booby-trap devices left by the Islamist militants discovered 25 bodies, some so badly disfigured they could not be identified.

Thirty-two terrorists also died and there were reports last night that five others had been captured alive.

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The veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar sent a video to a Mauritanian-based news website in which he claimed one of his cells, known as "Those Who Sign In Blood", was responsible for the attack.

In the video - which was said to have been recorded while the siege was still going on and was not posted on the Sahara Media website - he offered to negotiate with Algeria and the West if they halted the bombing of Muslims in Mali.

Hague has previously branded the militants "cold-blooded murderers" and said reports they had "executed" seven of their hostages before the final battle could well be true.

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  • An unidentified rescued hostage speaks to the media in a hospital Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Assiaciated Press TV) ** TV OUT ALGERIA OUT **

  • Unidentified rescued hostages pose for the media in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Associated Press TV) ** TV OUT ALGERIA OUT **

  • Algerian special police unit officers secure the hospital in Ain Amenas, Algeria, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, two days after the start of the terrorist attack at a gas plant. The hostage crisis in the remote desert of Algeria is not over, Britain said Friday, after an Algerian raid on the gas plant to wipe out Islamist militants and free their captives from at least 10 countries unleashed bloody chaos. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul)

  • An unidentified rescued hostage receives treatment in a hospital in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Associated Press TV) ** TV OUT ALGERIA OUT **

  • An unidentified rescued hostage speaks to the media in a hospital in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Associated Press TV) ** TV OUT ALGERIA OUT **

  • This image from video provided by the SITE Intel Group made available Thursday Jan. 17, 2013, purports to show militant militia leader Moktar Belmoktar. Algerian officials scrambled Thursday Jan. 17, 2013 for a way to end an armed standoff deep in the Sahara desert with Islamic militants who have taken dozens of foreigners hostage, turning to tribal Algerian Tuareg leaders for talks and contemplating an international force. The group claiming responsibility — called Katibat Moulathamine or the Masked Brigade — says it has captured 41 foreigners, including seven Americans, in the surprise attack Wednesday on the Ain Amenas gas plant. Algerian Interior Minister Daho Ould Kabila said the roughly 20 well armed gunmen were from Algeria itself, operating under orders from Moktar Belmoktar, al-Qaida's strongman in the Sahara. (AP Photo/SITE Intel Group) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS HAS NO WAY OF INDEPENDENTLY VERIFYING THE CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS PICTURE. MANDATORY CREDIT: SITE Intel Group

  • This April 19, 2005 photo released by Statoil via NTB scanpix, shows the Ain Amenas gas field in Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013. As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in the natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France's intervention in Mali. (AP Photo/Kjetil Alsvik, Statoil via NTB scanpix) NORWAY OUT

  • This April 19, 2005 photo released by Statoil via NTB scanpix, shows the Ain Amenas gas field in Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013. As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in the natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France's intervention in Mali. (AP Photo/Kjetil Alsvik, Statoil via NTB scanpix) NORWAY OUT

  • JGC Corporation, or Nikki Manager of public relations Takeshi Endo, foreground, answers reporters' questions following Wednesday's attack at a natural gas complex in Algeria which involves the company's workers, at its headquarters in Yokohama, near Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. A militant group that claimed responsibility said 41 foreigners were being held after the assault on one of oil-rich Algeria's energy facilities. Two foreigners were killed. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE

  • Helge Lund

    Statoil Chief Executive Helge Lund answers questions about the situation in the gas field, jointly operated by BP, the Norwegian energy company Statoil and the Algerian state oil company Sonatrachfield along with Japanese company JGC Corp., in Ain Amenas in Algeria during a press briefing in Stavanger, Norway, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. In a desert standoff deep in the Sahara, the Algerian army ringed the natural gas complex where Islamist militants hunkered down with dozens of hostages Wednesday night after a rare attack that appeared to be the first violent shock wave from the French intervention in Mali. (AP Photo/NTB Scanpix, Kent Skibstad) NORWAY OUT

  • Helge Lund

    Statoil Chief Executive Helge Lund answers questions about the situation in the gas field, jointly operated by BP, the Norwegian energy company Statoil and the Algerian state oil company Sonatrachfield along with Japanese company JGC Corp., in Ain Amenas in Algeria during a press briefing in Stavanger, Norway, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. In a desert standoff deep in the Sahara, the Algerian army ringed the natural gas complex where Islamist militants hunkered down with dozens of hostages Wednesday night after a rare attack that appeared to be the first violent shock wave from the French intervention in Mali. (AP Photo/NTB Scanpix, Kent Skibstad) NORWAY OUT

  • STATOIL

    Statoil spokesman Ole Anders Skauby, centre right, talks to TV reporters outside Scandic Bergen Airport hotel where a drop-in center is established for relatives of hostages involved in the situation in Algeria. Militants are holding a number of foreigners hostages in the Sahara desert in revenge for Algeria's support of French efforts to remove Islamists from control of neighboring northern Mali. (AP Photo / Hakon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix) NORWAY OUT

  • An unidentified rescued hostage receives treatment in a hospital Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Assiaciated Press TV) ** TV OUT ALGERIA OUT **

  • Residents of Ain Amenas, Algeria, gather outside the hospital trying to get information concerning relatives wounded during the terrorist attack at the gas plant, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. The hostage crisis in the remote desert of Algeria is not over, Britain said Friday, after an Algerian raid on the gas plant to wipe out Islamist militants and free their captives from at least 10 countries unleashed bloody chaos. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul)

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