Early Reports: 35 Hostages Killed in Algeria Crisis

Many had already escaped, according to earlier reports
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2013 2:14 AM CST
Updated Jan 17, 2013 10:11 AM CST
Troops Surround Algerian Gas Field in Hostage Crisis
The Amenas natural gas field in the eastern central Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/BP)

Some 35 hostages and 15 Islamist militants in the Algerian crisis have reportedly been killed in a helicopter attack launched by the Algerian military, reports the AP. Those numbers, however, were released by the militants, who also announced that seven of the 41 hostages taken, including two Americans, are still alive. An Algerian official had said earlier that 20 foreign hostages had escaped before the raid. Confused by the dubious math? As Francois Holland said at a press conference today, the situation is "very confused." Al-Jazeera reports that the dead include lead kidnapper Abu Al Baraa. His group says the deaths occurred as they tried to leave the remote Sahara gas plant with their hostages.

CNN reports that the militants, who attacked workers as they rode a bus early yesterday, had initially sought safe passage to Libya, which is 40 miles away from the facility, but an Algerian official said no dice: "We have received their demands, but we didn't respond to them." While the attackers say they're responding to France's actions in Mali, British foreign secretary William Hague has raised doubts: "That is a convenient excuse, but usually operations like this take longer to plan." Still, the crisis could be a bad omen for similar attacks across the region, notes the Guardian. (Read more Algeria stories.)

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