News / Africa

Algeria Says 'Several' Killed in Hostage Crisis

Handout photo by Norway energy group Statoil road sign near the In Amenas gas field, jointly operated by British oil giant BP, Norway's Statoil and state-run Algerian energy firm Sonatrach, in eastern Algeria near the Libyan border.
Handout photo by Norway energy group Statoil road sign near the In Amenas gas field, jointly operated by British oil giant BP, Norway's Statoil and state-run Algerian energy firm Sonatrach, in eastern Algeria near the Libyan border.
VOA News

Algeria's state-run news agency says the military operation at the natural gas complex where Islamic militants seized 41 foreign hostages has ended.

But firm information on the fate of the captives is hard to confirm.

The country's communications minister, Mohamed Said, said a "large number of terrorists were neutralized" during the raid. But he also said that several hostages were killed.  

A news agency in Mauritania quoted a militant spokesman as saying 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers were killed when Algerian helicopters attacked as the militants tried to move the hostages. That report has not been independently confirmed.

Algeria's news agency reports at least four hostages were freed while others escaped.  At least one hostage, an Irishman, has been confirmed safe and has spoken with his family.

Other hostages are believed to include Norwegians, Japanese and Americans.

Al-Qaida-linked militants stormed the Amenas gas complex in eastern Algeria Wednesday for what they say is retaliation for French military operations in Mali.  Islamic militants also with ties to al-Qaida are in control of northern Mali and have threatened to move towards the capital.

The gas complex is jointly run by Algerian, British and Norwegian firms.  The Pentagon says it is ready to intervene if Algeria asks for help, and a Defense Department official would not deny reports that the U.S. sent a drone over Algeria.

Richard Cochrane, an analyst at London's IHS Jane's security and defense company, says the incident could have long-term economic implications for Algeria.

In an interview with VOA, he said the kidnappings have elevated the risks for foreign investors in the country.

"Algeria is well aware that these sites were targets, which is why guards and the army were on station to respond to these events and the fact that they were unable to defend these workers is going to be a cause of severe embarrassment and perhaps a longer-term problem for Algerians persuading new investors into the country to work in these isolated southern regions," Cochrane said.

Listen to De Capua interview with Richard Cochrane
Listen to De Capua interview with Richard Cochranei
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Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 17, 2013 2:54 PM
"A defense official said the Pentagon does not deny reports that the U.S. sent a drone over Algeria". In any way discussing any ongoing or not going military operations, by insiders of the establishment make no sense at all. Any such discussions could divulge operational capabilities in the theatre of operations, which helps the enemies. Such defense officials need to get real defense jobs, so they do not get involved in divulging in any way or confirm existing in theatre capabilites. On the contrary, serious capability shortages should be reported all the time, to ensure the enemy comes out in the open, and takes more risks....Some of this terrorist orgs appear to be well versed with modern media.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 17, 2013 1:06 PM
It is difficult to comprehend, that a large hydrocarbon production facility, which earns a significant amount of money, fraction of GDP, for Algeria was unprotected. Given that terrorist forces were known to operate accross borders, one can only see that there is a serious lack of capability in the security apparatus of the Algerian state. A facility that earns so much money, to better the life standards of the population in Algeria, should be well protected. I hope the rest of Algeria's facilities are better protected, so there is no repeat of such situations.
In Response

by: Richard McCabe
January 17, 2013 4:47 PM
Some of these countries don't allow any armed protection.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
January 17, 2013 3:15 PM
even it is not secure that does not give excuse for such horrible crime. the ideology of Islam is behind each terrorist attack. the notion that Islam is a peaceful religion is wrong

by: HOCE POLO from: Uganda
January 17, 2013 10:25 AM
may God bless Africa what the hell does the west want from this land,there should be better way of conflict resolution than war we are losing innocent blood.

by: ali baba from: new york
January 17, 2013 10:08 AM
radical Muslim needs a fist of iron to deal with them . because Obama administration is playing soft ball .the terrorist attack is increasing significantly . people who attacked American embassy in Libya are free. people attacked American embassy in Egypt are free and us reward Egypt with 500 million dollar
In Response

by: Richard McCabe
January 17, 2013 4:49 PM
With the drones overhead with their ultra high resolution imagining capability, day or night, they probably have pictures of most of the attackers. So why indeed haven't they caught any? Perhaps they don't want to. If they caught them they'd be asked to testify and that might not be desirable for the administration.

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