Hours after the raid, it was unclear how many hostages had been let go, killed or still held captive.
Analysts say Algeria raided the complex to salvage its tough military's reputation after militants attacked with security forces nearby.
"The temptation to show its strength first and foremost must have been overwhelming for a regime that showed as little weakness in the face of the Arab Spring," the Telegraph's Richard Spencer said.
The nation has a massive military budget, which makes it influential in stabilizing the region, Anouar Boukhars, a scholar in the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East program, said in an editorial in The New York Times.
Roaring success for South African musician
Your African culture may be your ticket to Hollywood, according to a famous South African musician.
Lebo M put his stamp on "The Lion King," his powerful opening vocal sequence contributing to its appeal as a popular culture phenomenon.
More than two decades later, the singer and songwriter still has a passion for what he does.
His arrangements captured the spirit of Africa -- and the politics in his home country at the time.
"That's the hardest thing to do right now -- to tell young people in Nigeria, in Johannesburg, in Ghana that the African in you is your ticket to Hollywood," he said this week.
Before he got the gig, the movie's producers scoured his hometown of Soweto, looking for him.
"They looked all over," Lebo said. "At the time, there was no iPhone ... to find somebody in Soweto, good luck!"