Islamist militants seized at least 20 hostages, including as many as seven Americans, at an Algerian natural gas complex Wednesday in a brazen attack linked by the assailants to France’s military intervention in neighboring Mali.
At least one foreign worker was reported killed in the early morning assault on the vast In Amenas gas field near Algeria’s eastern border with Libya. The attack, attributed to a unit of al-Qaeda’s offshoot in North Africa, raised concerns about a broadening of Mali’s civil war five days after French forces joined the country’s fight against Islamist insurgents. (The Washington Post)
The Guardian is providing a comprehensive and real-time updating on the situation.
Here’s a summary as of 0800 US Eastern Time:
News agencies in Mauritania are reporting that Algerian aircraft have attacked the gas complex where militants are holding foreign hostages, resulting in the deaths of a number of hostages and kidnappers. This cannot be verified at this time.
A number of the foreigners held by armed Islamist militants in Algeria are reported to have escaped. An Algerian security source said 25 people, including Europeans, Americans and Japanese, have got away. Some 30 Algerians were reported to have escaped earlier today.
One Briton and one Algerian have been confirmed killed and others are feared dead in the hostage situation at an Algerian gas field complex. The group, Battalion of Blood, is claiming it has 41 hostages.
The gunmen are claiming they took the hostages in retaliation for France’s military intervention against al-Qaida-linked rebels in neighbouring Mali. The hostage-takers are reportedly seeking a safe passage out of the isolated area, something Algerian authorities have already rejected. The militants appear to have no escape route; they are cut off by surrounding troops and army helicopters overhead.
Beginning about 0830 US Eastern Time there are many reports of military action resulting in the death of several hostage-takers and captives. It will take hours to confirm what has happened or not and the outcomes. This is a very remote location.