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Two reported killed in kidnapping at BP gas field in Algeria

16 January 2013

Islamist militants attacked a gas production field in southern Algeria on January 15, kidnapping at least nine foreigners and killing two people during a dawn raid, local and company officials said. An al-Qaida-linked group operating in the Sahara said it had carried out the raid on the In Amenas facility, Mauritania's ANI news agency reported.

The In Amenas field is 1,200 km south-east of Algiers and 100 km from the Libyan border
The In Amenas field is 1,200 km south-east of Algiers and 100 km from the Libyan border

Earlier, Islamists had vowed to retaliate for France's military intervention in Mali, where its forces have been in action against al Qaeda-linked militants since last week.

APS, the Algerian press agency, reported that two Britons were among the dead, though the UK Foreign Office was not yet able to confirm those reports. Other local sources said a French national was killed in the attack. 

Five Japanese nationals working for engineering firm JCG Corp were kidnapped and other reports claim variously that a French national, an Irishman, an American and a Norwegian are also being held, although there has been no confirmation about any of the latter.

Algerian forces caught up with and surrounded the kidnappers at the workers' camp at Tiguentourine, and negotiations for the release of the hostages are continuing, an Algerian security official said.

The attack raised fears that the French action could prompt further Islamist revenge attacks on Western targets in Africa, where al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) operates across borders in the Sahara. AQIM said it had carried out the raid on the In Amenas facility in Algeria, Mauritania's ANI news agency reported.

The Algerian interior ministry said: "A terrorist group, heavily armed and using three vehicles, launched an attack this Wednesday at 5 am against a Sonatrach base in Tigantourine, near In Amenas, about 60 miles from the Algerian and Libyan border." 

The ministry said the attack was directed at bus taking gas field workers to an airport. A French report claims that the raiders had Libyan accents and probably came from Libya.

In Amenas is a wet gas field operated by a joint venture including BP, Norwegian oil firm Statoil and Algerian state company Sonatrach.

BP confirmed there had been a "security incident" at the In Amenas field, but could give no more details. Statoil described the incident as an emergency situation but could not say if any of its employees at the site were affected.

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