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Algeria Conflict: 48 Including 34 Hostages Killed

January 19, 2013
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Source: Countercurrents.org

Hostage incident in Algeria has taken gruesome bloody turn as 34 hostages and 14 captors have been reportedly killed.

albawaba reported [1]:

Thirty-four hostages and 14 of their captors were reportedly killed in an air raid on January 17, 2013 afternoon by the Algerian armed forces, Mauritania’s ANI news agency reported.

The agency has close ties to the militant group, a subsidiary of the Katibat Moulathamine (Masked Brigade) known as Those Who Signed in Blood, and news agencies have so far been unable to confirm the reports.

The Algerian military also reportedly destroyed vehicles used by the kidnappers.

A spokesman for the group claimed the kidnappers would kill the remaining hostages if the Algerian army approached.

The head of the group, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, is a veteran of Algeria’s civil war and the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The UN designated him an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist in 2003.

Belmokhtar is involved in extensive criminal activity, according to the UN, including kidnapping, gunrunning, smuggling and murder

An earlier albawaba report [2] said:

Algerian helicopters have attacked the gas complex where Islamists seized dozens of hostages on January 17, 2013, according to one of the kidnappers.

Two Japanese hostages were reportedly injured in the attack, according to Mauritania’s ANI news agency, which has close ties to the group that has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

Reports earlier indicated some of the hostages had been fitted with improvised explosive belts. The group threatened to blow up the gas plant if the army attacked.

Another report [3] said:

Algeria’s state news agency has said 30 local workers escaped from the desert gas facility where scores of hostages are being held by a militant Islamic group.

It did not say how the hostages are thought to have evaded their captors.

The militants claim to have taken 41 people hostage at the In Amenas facility near the border with Libya. The Algerian army has surrounded the site and the militants have threatened to blow up the facility if the army attacks.

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers due to meet to discuss the crisis in Mali are expected to hold talks on the hostage crisis.

On the hostages a report [4] said:

Hostages held by Islamist militants at a gas field in Algeria have reportedly been forced to wear belts strapped with explosives, France 24 reported on January 17, 2013.

The French television network said a hostage told the channel that his captors were heavily armed and had threatened to blow up the facility if the Algerian army tried to intervene.

The Algerian army surrounded the natural gas complex on January 16, 2013 where dozens of hostages were being held by Islamist militants on Wednesday night in what appeared to be a retaliation for the French intervention in Mali.

“We reject all negotiations with the group, which is holding some 20 hostages from several nationalities,” the Post reported Kabila as saying on national television.

A militant group claiming responsibility said 41 foreigners, including seven Americans, and hundreds of Algerians were being held and two had been killed. U.S. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, said the U.S. would “take all necessary and proper steps,” raising the prospect of a further escalation of the standoff.

Army helicopters circled the Ain Amenas facility, with the militants reportedly having no avenue for escape. The gas field is a joint operation between BP, Norwegian company Statoil and Algerian state-owned firm Sonatrach.

French President Francois Hollande launched an air assault on Friday against Islamist rebels in northern and western Mali.

Algeria has fought a complex conflict with Islamic militants since the early 1990s.

Source:

[1] “34 hostages reported killed in Algerian army raid on gas works: agencies”, Jan 17, 2013, http://www.albawaba.com/news/algeria-hostage-464554

[2] “Algerian 'copters strike hostage crisis gas plant: report”, January 17, 2013,
http://www.albawaba.com/news/algeria-hostage-464536

[3] albawaba, “Algeria hostage crisis: 30 Algerian workers reportedly escape captors”, Jan 17, 2013,
http://www.albawaba.com/news/algeria-hostage-464500

[4] albawaba, “Algeria hostages 'forced to wear bomb belts'”, Jan 17, 2013,
http://www.albawaba.com/news/algeria-hostage-464464

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