22 Hostages Still Missing in Algeria: Report

...as standoff between military, militants continues

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 18, 2013 5:03 AM CST

(Newser) – After the Algerian military launched an attack on militants holding hostages at a gas field, numbers remain hazy, but Reuters reports that the whereabouts of 22 of those hostages—14 Japanese and eight Norwegians—remain unknown. Algerian special forces continue to surround the site, a local insider tells Reuters, adding that 30 hostages and 11 militants have been killed. The dead include two Britons, two Japanese, and a French national, the source says.

Algerian officials say the number killed is closer to 11 or 12, the Wall Street Journal reports, while the BBC relays Algerian state news reports citing two British and two Filipino victims. Either way, the Algerian raid is stirring controversy among other governments connected to the situation. "Before the raid began, we urged the Algerians to be cautious and strongly encouraged them to make the safety of the hostages their top priority," an Obama administration official tells the Journal. British officials say they haven't been told the military effort is over, the New York Times reports. "The prime minister has advised we should be prepared for bad news," they say. The Times has a profile of the man behind the militants.

This Oct. 8, 2012 satellite image shows the Amenas Gas Field in Algeria, which is jointly operated by BP and Norway's Statoil and Algeria's Sonatrach.
This Oct. 8, 2012 satellite image shows the Amenas Gas Field in Algeria, which is jointly operated by BP and Norway's Statoil and Algeria's Sonatrach.   (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)
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