Algerian troops have surrounded the Islamist gunmen who kidnapped workers from the Amenas gas field in Algeria. (Reuters)
According to Mauritania’s ANI news agency, which has been in constant contact with the kidnappers, 34 of 41 hostaged were killed yesterday at a Algerian gas plant.
Many people were killed when Algerian forces opened fire on a vehicle at a remote gas plant where gunmen were holding dozens of Western hostages, a resident of the locality and Arab news reports said on Thursday.
The resident, who asked not to be identified, said there were many bodies at the scene. He did not give firm numbers of the dead or say whether they were kidnappers, hostages or both.
Mauritania’s ANI news agency, which has been in constant contact with the kidnappers, reported that 34 of the captives and 15 of the captors had been killed when government forces fired from helicopters while the kidnappers were trying to move some of their prisoners.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera television carried a similar report. Those details could not be immediately confirmed.
The Algerian government rejected a demand from the Islamist militants who seized Westerners at the plant for safe passage to nearby Libya.
Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb emir Mokhtar Belmokhtar is said to be behind the terrorist attack.
UPDATE: ANI reported: A spokesman for the kidnappers told the agency those hostages were three Belgians, two Americans, a Japanese and a Briton.
UPDATE: FOX News reported that one American escaped from the complex sometime during the raid and was able to contact family members back in the US.
UPDATE: The official Algerian APS news agency said nearly 600 Algerian workers and four foreign hostages – two Britons, a Frenchman and a Kenyan – had been freed during the operation.