A hostage crisis at a gas complex in the Algerian desert entered its third day Friday, with little known about the fate of those still held there.
Algerian forces stormed the Ain Amenas gas plant Thursday, freeing an unknown number of foreign and local workers, but leaving several hostages and kidnappers dead.
Foreign governments, which were not alerted to the raid beforehand, were nervously trying to discern the condition of the 41 foreign hostages reported held at the facility.
At least four foreign captives were confirmed safe by their governments -- three Japanese and an Irishman. The fate of the others - reported to be from the U.S., Japan, Norway, Romania, the Philippines, Britain, France, Malaysia and Austria, is unknown.
Algerian state media said 600 local workers, who were not as well-guarded as the foreign hostages, also were freed in the raid.
Militants claiming allegiance with al-Qaida stormed the gas complex in eastern Algeria Wednesday in what they said was retaliation for French military operations in Mali.
The Algerian military has surrounded the facility. It has refused to negotiate with the kidnappers, and has rejected offers of military help from Western nations, although an unarmed U.S. military drone was reported to be flying overhead.
Algerian Communications Minister Mohamed Said said a "large number of hostages were freed and a large number of terrorists were neutralized" during the Thursday raid. He also said several hostages were killed.
A militant spokesman said 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers were killed when Algerian helicopters attacked. The claim was impossible to confirm.
The gas complex, located in a remote area of the desert, is jointly run by Algerian, British and Norwegian firms.
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