The bizarre Algerian Hostage Crisis may be over, but it is still unclear what actually happened. Reports today indicate the Algerian military launched a “final assault” on a Natural Gas Facility in Algeria where Al-Qaeda terrorists had taken captive an unknown number of hostages. The Algerians say the “final assault” killed the terrorists and seven more hostages – to be added to the unknown number killed in an earlier assault by the Algerian Military:
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Algerian troops raided a remote natural gas refinery Saturday, killing 11 Islamic militants but not before extremists executed seven hostages who for days had been trapped in a deepening international crisis, according to media reports.
Algerian state media described the army mission as the “final assault” to end a hostage ordeal that began in the predawn Wednesday at a gas compound on the Algerian-Libyan border. It was not clear if the hostages killed were Algerians or foreigners.
“It is over now, the assault is over, and the military are inside the plant clearing it of mines,” a local source familiar with the operation told Reuters.
The fate of as many as 30 foreign hostages, including an estimated seven Americans, remained unknown. Algerian forces discovered 15 burned bodies as they swept through the compound Saturday to rout heavily armed militants. The militants threatened to blow up the facility and a number of hostages were reported earlier to have been forced to wear explosive belts.
The Algerian government had refused to negotiate with the extremists, who were linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and appear to include Algerians, Libyans, Egyptians and at least one commander from Niger.
Algeria’s state-run media earlier reported that 12 refinery workers, including Algerians and foreigners, had been killed since a government operation to retake the plant began Thursday. Unconfirmed media reports suggested that as many as 35 foreign captives may have been killed, including some struck by gunfire from the Algerian military. . . .Read More
A few days ago, Stratfor explained that for the Algerians, getting the hostages out safely was not their first concern. Demonstrating strength against the terrorists was their primary objective in this whole situation – hence their decision to assault the terrorists quickly and decisively despite the risk to the hostages. It is not known yet how many Americans may be among the dead.
Here’s a good rundown from NBC News on the mysterious Algerian Hostage Crisis. As of this morning, there is still a great deal that is unknown about the reported “rescue” mission attempted by the Algerian Military, and just how many casualties there were.
UPDATED 1/18/13, 9:25 AM ET: The UK Daily Mail has an article updating with more information on what has happened so far:
*’Battalion of Blood’ gunmen had one aim… to ‘kill infidels and Christians’: American and up to THIRTY Brits among dozens of hostages killed in botched raid on Al Qaeda gang at Algerian gas field
*An American from Texas is among those feared dead after the bloody raid by the Algerian military
*Of seven US hostages, two escaped unharmed yesterday from the hostage standoff Kidnappers want to swap two Americans for jailed terror figures
*Fierce gun battles erupted as troops moved in on the Islamists at a BP site in Algeria
*Source said 30 hostages were killed, of whom the nationalities of 15 had been established
*The Obama administration was not aware of the raid ahead of time
*Algerian officials said 18 militants have been killed but there were estimated to be 70 in total
*Captors are now threatening to attack other energy installations
*Algeria also ignored offers of help from the SAS and American special forces
White House in constant contact with Algerian government, first priority is safety of hostages: White House spokesman— Reuters Politics (@ReutersPolitics) January 18, 2013
France’s PM said several hostages have been killed in the military assault at the gas facility. on.wsj.com/VOA1us— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 18, 2013
Stratfor Africa Analyst Mark Schroeder explains how the raid to free hostages held by jihadists illustrated Algeria’s willingness to defend its national security regardless of foreign nationals’ safety or international opinion.
There is little clear word yet as to the number of hostages killed in the “rescue” attempt that Stratfor believes was much more a move to crush the Al-Qaeda Terrorists.
Here is video of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responding to questions today about the Algerian Hostage Crisis. Clinton called the situation “very fluid,” and said she could not give much detail about what is going on there.
Just a few moments ago, I heard a report on radio that some kind of rescue attempt has been conducted, but there was no word yet as to the success or outcome of the raid. Some Americans along with dozens of other foreigners were taken captive by Al-Qaeda Terrorists at the Natural Gas facility in Algeria.
Al-Qaeda Terrorists have attacked a British Petroleum Natural Gas facility in Algeria and taken dozens of foreigners hostage – including some Americans. Some reports indicate 7 Americans were captured, but other reports put the confirmed number at three:
CBS NEWS: Algeria’s government searched desperately Thursday for a way to end the desert standoff with Islamic militants who have taken dozens of foreigners hostage at a natural gas complex, as the purported militants behind the attack accused Alergian forces of wounding some of the captives.
One Algerian security official told the Associated Press on Thursday that 20 foreigners had managed to escape, including some Americans and Europeans, but the report could not be immediately confirmed.
CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reports the State Department has only confirmed that three Americans are among those taken hostage, and that 10 in total worked at the facility.
The government was in talks throughout the night with the U.S. and France over whether international forces could help against the militants, who have said 41 foreigners, including seven Americans, were being held after the assault on one of oil-rich Algeria’s energy facilities, 800 miles from the capital of Algiers. Two foreigners, one of them a Briton, were killed. . . .
The group claiming responsibility — called Katibat Moulathamine or the Masked Brigade — said the attack Wednesday was in revenge for Algeria’s support of France’s military operation against al Qaeda-linked rebels in neighboring Mali. Militants phoned a Mauritanian news outlet to say one of its affiliates had carried out the operation at the Ain Amenas gas field, and that France should end its intervention in Mali to ensure the safety of the hostages. . . . Read More
UPDATED 1/17/13, 8:32 AM ET: Reuters is now reporting that 34 of the hostages have been killed in an airstrike by the Algerian military:
BREAKING: 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers killed by air strikes by Algerian army – ANI news agency live.reuters.com/Event/Mali_Con…— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) January 17, 2013
UPDATED 1/17/13, 7:58 AM ET: Reports are breaking that some of the hostages, perhaps 20 of them, including Americans, have managed to escape from their terrorist captors:
BREAKING Americans among 20 hostages to escape from terrorist captors at Algeria gas facilitynyp.st/U3sXZJ— New York Post (@nypost) January 17, 2013