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Algerian gas plant: death toll rises

21 January 2013

According to a Reuters report on January 21, the hostage death toll from the four-day siege at the In Amenas natural gas plant in Eastern Algeria has risen to almost 60. The plant, operated by Sonatrach of Algeria, UK-based oil major BP and Statoil of Norway, was attacked by a group of Al Qaeda-linked terrorists on January 16 and was finally retaken by Algerian security forces on January 19.

Japanese engineering company JGC had a substantial presence at the site, and at least nine Japanese nationals have been reported killed. Statoil says that five Norwegian employees are missing and BP a further four. British Prime Minister David Cameron said that up to six British nationals were believed to have been killed in the incident.

Altogether, American, British, French, Japanese, Norwegian and Romanian workers have been reported dead or missing and around 25 foreign workers, the main target of the terrorists, remain unaccounted for. A number of Algerian workers are also missing.

Algerian authorities said 107 foreign hostages and 685 Algerian nationals have been freed.

The Algerian army has been methodically making its way through the vast complex, defusing mines left by the terrorists and looking for further survivors. Casualty figures could still rise as troops continue to search through the site.

Update: In a press conference late on January 21, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that thirty-seven foreign workers were killed and seven were still missing after the four-day siege of the In Amenas gas facility.

Sellal said the hostage crisis was coordinated by a Canadian national, and another of the dead militants was also carrying Canadian identity papers.

The Prime Minister said that 29 Islamists were killed in the siege and three had been captured alive.

Nearly 700 Algerian workers and more than 100 foreigners escaped, mainly on January 18 when the fighters were driven from the residential barracks. Some captors remained holed up in the industrial complex until January 19 when they were overrun.

American, British, Colombian, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Filipino, Malaysian and Romanian workers are dead or missing after the attack.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has ordered an investigation into how security forces failed to prevent the attack, the daily El Khabar said.



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