Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Foreigners held hostage by Islamist militants in Algeria

As expected. From the BBC

Two foreigners, one of them British, have been killed and more taken hostage in an attack by Islamist militants on a gas facility in Algeria, reports say.

An al-Qaeda-linked group claims it is holding 41 foreigners, including US, French, British and Japanese citizens at the facility near In Amenas.

It says the attack is to avenge Algeria's support of France's operation against al-Qaida-linked rebels in Mali. The group says hostages will be freed if France ends its operations in Mali.

Algeria's state-run APS news agency said Algerian workers at the facility had been released. Two foreigners were reportedly killed in the attack, one of them a British national. A local source earlier told the Reuters news agency a Frenchman had died.

The UK government confirmed that "several British nationals" had been involved in a "terrorist incident". Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference that 13 Norwegian employees of Statoil were believed held hostage at the gas facility.

A man claiming to be a spokesman for the militants told BBC Arabic that al-Qaeda had carried out the attack. He claimed that they had allowed Algerian workers to leave the gas facility and were only holding foreign nationals.

A list of demands had been sent to the Algerian authorities, and the hostages would be killed if troops attempted to rescue them, the spokesman added. ''Storming the gas complex would be easy for the Algerian military, but the outcome of such an operation would be disastrous," he warned.

Earlier, a group known as the Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade claimed responsibility.

The Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade is believed to be led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar - also known as Abu al-Abbas - who was a senior commander of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) before late last year, when he set up his own armed group after apparently falling out with other leaders.

His new group is also known as the Signed-in Blood Battalion, (what! Not the Black Hand Gang?) whose spokesman told ANI that it had taken more than 40 hostages, including seven Americans, two French citizens and two British citizens.

Posted on 01/16/2013 1:48 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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