Algeria's interior ministry says the nation's hostage crisis has ended with 23 hostages and 32 militants killed in the violence. On Satuday the ministry said Saturday security forces managed to free 107 foreign hostages and 685 Algerians.
Algeria's official APS news agency said the country's special forces stormed a natural gas complex earlier Saturday in their "final assault" on Islamists who had been holding scores of hostages in the desert facility.
France endorsed Algeria's handling of the situation Saturday, saying it was the "most appropriate" response since it was not possible to negotiate with the "coldly determined terrorists."
In Washington, President Barack Obama issued a written statement saying the thoughts and prayers of Americans are with the families of the victims. He condemned the actions of the kidnappers, saying they were entirely to blame.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks during a news conference with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond (L), Jan. 19, 2013.
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed the crisis at a news conference in London Saturday. Hammond said the terrorists bear the "sole responsibility" for the deaths.
Several Americans were among those being held. Panetta said he had only "sketchy information" about them and would not comment until he had better details. But he renounced terrorist attacks on Americans across the globe.
"Just as we cannot accept terrorism attacks against our cities, we cannot accept attacks against our citizens and our interests abroad," he said. "Neither can we accept an al-Qaida safe haven anywhere in the world."
U.S. officials confirmed late Friday that one American, Frederick Buttaccio, was killed during the siege.
Foreign hostages at the natural gas complex in eastern Algeria are believed to have included nationals from the U.S., Britain, Japan, Norway, Romania, the Philippines, France, Malaysia and Austria. The gas complex is jointly run by Algerian, British and Norwegian firms.
The militants say they attacked the facility Wednesday in retaliation for French military operations in Mali.