The Herald Bulletin

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January 21, 2013

Algeria: 37 foreign hostages killed in attack

ALGIERS, Algeria —  Algeria announced a new death toll Monday from the four-day siege at a natural gas plant, saying that 37 foreign hostages and 29 Islamist militants were killed. A Canadian was reported among those who took hundreds of workers hostage.

One Algerian worker was also killed, another five foreign workers are still unaccounted for and three attackers were captured, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told reporters at a press conference in Algiers, the capital.

At least one Canadian was among the al-Qaida-linked militants that attacked the remote plant in the Sahara desert and kidnapped scores of workers, he said. The attackers also included men from Egypt, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia, as well as three Algerians, he said. He did not say whether the Canadian was alive or dead.

He said a number of the hostages had been found killed by a bullet to the head.

The press conference was the government's first effort to provide a coherent narrative of events of the four-day standoff that transfixed the world after al-Qaida-linked militants raided a natural gas plant and took hundreds of workers hostage.

The prime minister said the heavily armed militants came from neighboring Mali carrying a great deal of explosives and mined the facility. They had prepared the attack for two months.

Sellal justified the Algerian military helicopter attack Thursday on vehicles at the plant filled with hostages and Islamists, saying that his forces feared the kidnappers were attempting to escape.

The Algerian special forces assault on the refinery on Saturday that killed the last group of militants and hostages came after the kidnappers attempted to destroy the complex.

The operation was led by an Algerian, Amine Benchenab, who was known to security services, he added.

 

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