An oil worker from Belfast has escaped the bloodbath at BP's Algerian gas plant where up to 35 foreign hostages were killed in a helicopter strike by government force, it emerged today.
Fifteen al-Qaeda insurgents are also thought to have died at the remote Saharan site after Algerian forces strafed the plant this morning, hours after the rebels had threatened to blow up the hostages if they intervened.
Islamic militants, acting in revenge for France's assault on al-Qaeda rebels in neighbouring Mali, said 35 captives including Britons and Americans were killed in the attack.
But amid conflicting reports, a source in the town said just six foreign hostages and eight of their captors were killed, while 25 captives including Americans and Europeans managed to escape.
One of those was a 36-year-old married man from Belfast who made contact with his family at around 3pm after being freed.
Horror: Thirty-five foreign hostages are feared dead after a helicopter air strike by Algerian forces on the BP gas plant seized by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists led by veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar (above)