16 January 2013

Algeria: Two Killed and 41 Foreigners Kidnapped Algerian Gas Field Attack

New details are emerging about the four-day hostage crisis at an Algeria gas facility. Amateur footage appears to show burnt out vehicles following ... ( Resource: Algeria Hostage Aftermath: 25 More Bodies Found )

Armed militants with suspected links to Al-Qaeda have killed two people, wounded six others and abducted 41 foreigners in an attack on a gas field run by the oil giant BP in central Algeria.

Algerian state media said one of those killed was a British national, but this has not been confirmed by the British Foreign Office.

Two policemen and four workers, including two foreigners, were among those wounded in the attack on the In Amenas gas field near the border with Libya.

A spokesperson for the attackers says 41 people have been taken hostage, including seven Americans and expatriates from France, Britain and Japan.

The Algerian Interior Ministry said: "a group of terrorists, heavily armed, arrived in three vehicles" early on Wednesday morning and tried to attack a bus transporting foreigners from the gas field to In Amenas airport, but they were repelled by an escorting convoy.

It said the militants then headed towards a compound for workers at Tigantourine, near In Amenas, and took a number of workers hostage, including expatriates.

Earlier, an Algerian member of parliament said four Japanese and one Frenchman were kidnapped in the raid. A man from Northern Ireland who holds an Irish passport was among the hostages, the Irish foreign ministry said.

A Norwegian man was also kidnapped, according to an interview the man's wife gave to Norwegian newspaper BT Daily.

One of the attackers told news agency AFP they were Al-Qaeda loyalists who had slipped into Algeria from northern Mali.

"We belong to the Khaled Abul Abbas Brigade led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar," he said, referring to one of the leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [Aqim].

A Western diplomat also told AFP the Algerian army had launched an operation to try to free the hostages.

BP confirmed the attack on the field, which is a joint venture with the Norwegian state oil company Statoil and the Algerian state-owned oil firm Sonatrach.

Statoil said it had just under 20 employees at the facility, of whom more than 10 were Norwegian.

The motives behind the attack are unclear.

Algeria announced on Tuesday that it had closed its border with Mali following a French military offensive against Islamic militant fighters in northern Mali.

Copyright © 2013 Radio France Internationale. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.