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
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)

(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.

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