23 Hostages Dead as Algeria Crisis is 'Brought to an End' - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

23 Hostages Dead as Algeria Crisis is 'Brought to an End'

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Twenty-three hostages and 32 militants were killed after an attack on a natural gas plant deep in the Sahara, the Algerian interior ministry said on Saturday, according to Reuters.

The official also said 107 foreign hostages and 685 Algerian hostages had been released, Reuters reported.

Earlier, British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said, speaking on information received by the British government, that the hostage crisis had "been brought to an end."

The Algerian Press Service had reported that several al-Qaida-linked militants were killed during the final raid launched by Algeria's military at the In Amenas plant, where the militants had taken a large number of hostages since the standoff began on Wednesday.

The Algerian Press Service also reported the militants had killed seven hostages, but their nationalities were not revealed.
Hammond described the loss of life as "appalling and unacceptable" at a joint press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

"We remain in close contact with the Algerian government," Hammond said. "We remain determined to defeat terrorism and stand with the Algerian government."

Hammond said that the latest Algerian military operation had resulted in further loss of life.

"We are pressing the Algerians for details on the exact situation and the numbers that have been killed and, if any, the numbers rescued," he said.

"The loss of life as a result of these attacks is appalling and unacceptable. We must be clear that it is the terrorists who bear sole responsibility for it."

The Associated Press reported that around 100 of the 135 foreign workers on the site had been freed by Friday and 18 of an estimated 30 kidnappers had been killed. The U.S. government confirmed that one of the dead hostages was Frederick Buttaccio from Texas.

The militants claimed Friday that they were holding two American hostages and would exchange them for two people being held in the United States — the blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and Aafie Siddiqque, a 40-year-old Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three, who was convicted of attacking U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

That would appear to account for all five Americans thought to have been at the plant, one U.S. official said, if the militants are telling the truth.

In a news release Saturday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he feared for the lives of five British citizens who remained unaccounted for, Reuters reported.

"One British citizen has already been killed in this brutal attack and we now fear the worst for the lives of five others who are not yet accounted for," Cameron said, according to Reuters.

British Petroleum said Saturday that four of its employees were among the hostages who remain missing.

In a conference call with reporters, Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said 14 of the 18 BP employees who were working at the site are "safe and secure" but four remain missing. Dudley said at this time he could not reveal the identities or nationalities of any of the employees. Dudley said the situation remains "very fluid and complex."

The hostage standoff in Algeria is proving frustrating as both media and governments struggle for information. The Washington Post's Joby Warrick discusses the situation with MSNBC's Alex Witt.

Based on information from those hostages freed, Dudley said they suffered a "terrible and agonizing ordeal" and the situation inside the facility was "horrific." Before "pre-judging" the actions taken by Algerian security Dudley said "we need he entire picture."

The remote In Amenas plant is jointly run by BP, Norway's Statoil and Algeria's state-owned oil company.

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