Algerian Militants Tell US to Free 2 Jailed Terrorists

Report says they will free US hostages in return

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 18, 2013 12:55 PM CST

(Newser) – A day after Algeria said it had wrapped up its mission to free hostages held by militants at a desert gas facility, the situation remains anything but wrapped up. By most accounts, dozens of hostages are still being held, with an unspecified number of Americans among them. Some developments:

  • New demands: A news agency in Mauritania reports that the al-Qaeda-linked militants will release American hostages if the US frees two convicted terrorists, reports USA Today. The two are "blind sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman, mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and Aafia Siddiqui, a female Pakistani scientist convicted of trying to kill US soldiers and FBI agents while in custody.

  • Revised numbers: The Algerian government's latest figures say that 132 foreign workers were originally abducted, far higher than thought, and that about 100 have since been freed, reports AP.
  • Hostages' ordeals: Some of those freed have described having explosives strapped to their chests and witnessing the executions of other hostages, reports the New York Times.

Unidentified rescued hostages pose for the media in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday.
Unidentified rescued hostages pose for the media in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday.   (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Associated Press TV)
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