ALGIERS: Thirty hostages, including at least seven foreigners, were killed yesterday when Algerian forces stormed a desert gas plant seized by Islamist militants, an Algerian security source said.
He said that among the dead hostages were eight Algerians, two Japanese, two Britons and one French national. The nationalities of the other dead were not clear.
Algerian special forces earlier launched a rescue operation on a desert gas complex, killing fleeing Islamists and an unknown number of their hostages, the communication minister said.
Communication Minister Mohamed Said said a number of kidnappers had been “neutralised” as they tried to flee, in the first official comment on the operation, but admitted that “some” hostages were killed or wounded.
Earlier, one of the Al Qaeda-linked Islamists said “warplanes and ground units” had begun an operation “to take the complex by force,” and threatened to “kill all the hostages if the Algerian forces succeed in entering the complex.”
He said 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers were killed in an army air strike, a claim that could not be verified.
APS said the army freed four foreigners — two Britons, a Frenchman and a Kenyan — and 600 Algerian workers held hostage at the In Amenas plant in southeastern Algeria.