Reportedly Comes to Violent End
The four-day hostage standoff in Algeria reportedly came to a bloody end Saturday when the country's special forces stormed the gas plant and killed 11 militants, but not before they allegedly executed seven hostages, the state news agency reported.
US officials have not confirmed that any hostages were executed at the remote desert gas plant Saturday. However, Philip Hammond, Britain's defense minister says it appears the hostage situation in Algeria has come to an end and resulted in further loss of life.
Hammond calls the loss of life appalling and unacceptable. He says "it is the terrorists that bear the sole responsibility for it"...
Algerian authorities estimated that around 30 militants occupied the Ain Amenas site Wednesday and with 18 already reported dead, it appears the hostage crisis involving hundreds of plant workers is finally over.
There was no official count of how many hostages were still being held by the final group of militants holed up in the gas refinery on Saturday, but the militants themselves had reported they were still holding three Belgian, two Americans, a Japanese and a Briton.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an improved counterterrorism relationship with Algeria and 'all countries in the region' after an American from Texas was identified as one of the hostages who died at a natural-gas site during a raid by the Algerian military.
The American was identified as Frederick Buttaccio. He reportedly suffered a heart attack. The general manager of the complex, Mark Cobb, also from Texas, was able to escape with members of his Algerian staff and is safe.
The desert siege began Wednesday when the militants attempted to hijack two buses at the plant, were repelled, and then seized the gas refinery. They said the attack was retaliation for France's recent military intervention against Islamist rebels in neighboring Mali, but security experts argue it must have taken weeks of planning to hit the remote site.
Since then, Algeria's government has kept a tight grip on information about the siege. Algerian officials have asked Western governments to stand on the sidelines during the military operations, and some US officials were reportedly concerned about the previous raid.
"The perpetrators are the terrorists. They are the ones who have assaulted this facility, have taken hostage Algerians and others from around the world as they were going about their daily businessl," she said.
Earlier Friday, Algeria's state news service reported that nearly 100 of the 132 foreign workers kidnapped by Islamic militants were free. That number of hostages at the remote desert facility was significantly higher than any previous report, but questions remained about the fate of more than 30 other foreign energy workers Saturday.
BP evacuated one American, along with other foreign workers, to Mallorca, Spain, and then to London. And an American official said a US military C-130 flew a group of people, including some lightly wounded or injured, from Algiers to a US facility in Europe on Friday.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/19/2013
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