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Published On: Tue, Jan 22nd, 2013

Algerian Prime Minister gives death toll update on hostage crisis

A total of 37 foreign hostages from eight different countries, along with 11 Algerian workers, were killed in last week’s attack on a gas facility in southern Algeria, the Algerian prime minister has said.

Militia leader Moktar Belmoktar Algeria hostage crisis video screenshot

Militia leader Moktar Belmoktar Algeria hostage crisis video screenshot

Among hostages confirmed dead by their own governments were three Americans, seven Japanese, six Filipinos and three Britons; others from Britain, Norway and elsewhere were listed as unaccounted for. 

Seven of the victims still have not been identified, and five other foreign workers are missing, Abdelmalik Sellal said, adding that a total of 25 hostages were found alive, and were still being identified.

He also said the 29 fighters who carried out the attack had arrived from neighboring Mali, where French and African troops are fighting several armed groups in the north.

Sellal said the attackers included both Algerians and foreigners from several countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Canada and Mauritania.

The attackers placed explosives in a gas pipe at the facility, Sellal said, in an effort to blow it up. He said they initially planned to hijack a bus carrying foreign workers to a nearby airport and take them hostage.

“They started firing at the bus and received a severe response from the soldiers guarding the bus,” Sellal said.

“They failed to achieve their objective, which was to kidnap foreign workers.”

Thirty-two kidnappers were killed during the crisis and the army freed 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners, the Algerian interior ministry said on Sunday.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister, described the incident as an “act of war” because of the large number of hostages involved.

The one-eyed mastermind of the hostage-taking, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, said in a video posted online that it was carried out by 40 fighters from the Muslim world and “European countries”.

His al-Qaeda-linked group, Signatories in Blood, threatened to stage attacks on nations involved in the French-led operation to evict Islamists from Algeria’s neighbour Mali, and said it had been open to negotiations.

“But the Algerian army did not respond … preferring to stage an attack which led to the elimination of the hostages,” it said in a message published by the Mauritanian news agency ANI.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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