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Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that his government would have liked to know about the operation in advance. Eight Norwegians remain unaccounted for at the site.

But Stoltenberg refrained from openly criticizing Algerian authorities, stressing that “here in Norway, and in other affected countries, we don’t have a full and complete picture (of the situation). They do in Algeria.”

The attack is a worrying development in an unstable region. Militants have in the past kidnapped foreign tourists across North and West Africa, but diplomats said a large and sophisticated attack on a major energy installation marked a departure.

“There are many, many oil and gas installations in the Algerian desert and I am not aware of any serious occurrences previously for years,” said Graham Hand, a former British ambassador to Algeria.

Inkster said governments “are going to have to think long and hard” about how to respond to the attack, and to Algeria‘s lack of coordination with other nations.

“They need to maintain a decent relationship with Algeria for economic reasons, as well as for security and geopolitical reasons,” he said.

Associated Press writers Cassandra Vinograd in London and Karl Ritter in Stockholm contributed to this report.