CBS: Algeria hostage situation “deteriorating”; Update: Terrorists claim helicopter strafing killed 34 hostages

posted at 8:37 am on January 17, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

CBS reports that the hostage situation at an Algerian natural-gas facility may be deteriorating — but for whom? Twenty hostages have escaped, according to the AP, including some of the Americans, but the Algerian military wounded two Japanese hostages in an attempt to end the standoff with Islamist terrorists. Al Jazeera spoke with the terrorists, who got some of the remaining hostages to demand that Algerian forces withdraw:

On Thursday, the Al Jazeera television network spoke via telephone to three purported hostages, and to a man identifying himself as Aboul Baraa, who said he was the Katibat Moulathamine commander leading the operation at the Amenas gas field.

“Yesterday, the Algerian army deliberately opened fire and they injured some of the hostages from Japan and South Korea,” Baraa told Al Jazeera. “If the army withdrew from the area, lifted this siege, and abandoned their obstinate approach, this can open the door for negotiations with governments of the hostages’ countries.”

A man identifying himself as a Japanese hostage told the network that he and a Norwegian hostage had been wounded by sniper fire. Two others, who identified themselves as a Briton and an Irish national, said they had communicated to their respective embassies that the situation was “deteriorating,” and urged the Algerian military to pull back from the confrontation and stop engaging the kidnappers.

The Irishman said the “message does not seem to be getting through,” warning that the incoming fire from Algerian troops was continuing, “up until recently, about 10 minutes ago, they were still firing into the camp.”

It was impossible to confirm the identities of the hostages, or whether they were being forced to make their statements under duress. The men said their captors were treating them well.

Actually, from that description it’s difficult to tell whether the situation is deteriorating for the Algerian forces or for the terrorists.  The plea from the terrorists to back off so that negotiations can start on their demands sounds a little desperate.  And it’s possible to overplay the “deteriorating” hand, too, because Western nations won’t stand idly by if they believe that Algerian forces can’t resolve the situation.  It’s a recipe for an intervention by people the terrorists won’t see coming.

Update: The terrorists now claim that an Algerian helicopter attack killed 34 hostages and 14 of the al-Qaeda terrorists:

Thirty-four hostages and 14 of their al Qaeda-linked kidnappers were killed on Thursday in an air strike by the Algerian armed forces, Mauritania’s ANI news agency reported, citing one of the kidnappers holding captives at a desert gas field.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the information from the agency, which has close contact with the group which has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping.

The AP is reporting it as 35 and 15:

Islamist militants have told a Mauritanian news outlet that Algerian military helicopters strafed the gas complex where they are holding hostages, killing 35 of the foreigners and 15 of the kidnappers.

The spokesman for the Masked Brigade, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the assault Wednesday on the gas complex deep in the Sahara desert, said Thursday that Abou El Baraa, the leader of the kidnappers, was also killed in the helicopter attack. …

The militant spokesman said the kidnappers were attacked by Algerian helicopters when they attempted to leave the complex.

There isn’t any independent confirmation, but that last part sounds like a bit of propaganda.

Update II: Here’s a little more fodder for skepticism.  The Washington Post also picked up on the hostage-escape story, and the numbers aren’t adding up:

The state-run Algerian news agency said 30 Algerian workers managed to flee their captors at the In Amenas gas complex. The Associated Press quoted an unidentified Algerian security official as saying at least 20 foreigners, including Americans and Europeans, escaped later in the day. Private Algerian news outlets reported that 15 foreigners were able to escape. …

The militants seized the hostages, including as many as seven Americans, in a brazen attack that they said was in retaliation for France’s military intervention in neighboring Mali, where French forces have joined Malian government troops in battling armed Islamists who have taken over much of northern Mali.

The militants claimed to have seized 41 foreigners at the complex. The Algerian government asserted that a little more than 20 foreigners were captured.

That sounds like almost the entire contingent of hostages had already escaped.  Perhaps a few were left, but even if 41 foreigners had initially been captured, the escape of 15-20 would have left the terrorists with a lot fewer than 35 to be killed in a helicopter attack.


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Well, that didn’t take long.

BigGator5 on January 17, 2013 at 8:40 AM

The nerve of these jihadis. This could be a real distraction to the celebration of me on Jan 21.

Wigglesworth on January 17, 2013 at 8:44 AM

Nice to see that Al Gorezerra’s new television network is invovled./

rsherwd65 on January 17, 2013 at 8:47 AM

The numbers alone are all messed up.
41 hostages
20 escape
34 killed
A disaster all around.

Jabberwock on January 17, 2013 at 8:49 AM

Send in Al Gore…

Electrongod on January 17, 2013 at 8:49 AM

The numbers alone are all messed up.
41 hostages
20 escape
34 killed
A disaster all around.

Jabberwock on January 17, 2013 at 8:49 AM

If only there was common sense Terrorist Control…

Electrongod on January 17, 2013 at 8:51 AM

So.What can we learn from this? If you are an American working in the Middle East – you can’t count on the USA doing ANYTHING to protect or save you. Period. Obama just does … NOTHING.

djl130 on January 17, 2013 at 8:53 AM

There isn’t any independent confirmation, but that last part sounds like a bit of propaganda.

Well, it’s Islam and Muslims so……”we may never know”. If you are inclined to believe Muslims, it will be a problem.

BL@KBIRD on January 17, 2013 at 8:56 AM

This happened AFTER the election so the media will be able to actually cover this disaster…. right?

Bensonofben on January 17, 2013 at 8:57 AM

If only the Jihadis didn’t have AK’s, because AK’s use 30-round banana magazine shoulder clips, and those things cause people to go on murder sprees.

Bishop on January 17, 2013 at 9:02 AM

If only there was common sense Terrorist Control…

Electrongod on January 17, 2013 at 8:51 AM

There should be a law, or maybe an Executive Order.

Night Owl on January 17, 2013 at 9:02 AM

alQueda holding Americans hostage???

I thought Barry O had assured us that alQueda was gone…

Barry should go to the UN and have the UN ban guns from terrorists.

albill on January 17, 2013 at 9:06 AM

There should be a law, or maybe an Executive Order.

Night Owl on January 17, 2013 at 9:02 AM

If we can save just one American….
Then we should try…

Maybe if we had a President that cared……
or do his job…

Electrongod on January 17, 2013 at 9:09 AM

They should just declare the Middle East a gun-free zone. #problemsolved

RedRedRice on January 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Did the straffing aircraft had a large capacity magazine?

Ted Torgerson on January 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM

The news that some Americans are hostages is a lie.

Ever since Obama was elected, the world now loves America, so why take American hostages?

sentinelrules on January 17, 2013 at 9:13 AM

BREAKING:
-Obama to announce commission to look into limiting the weapons and ammunition terrorists can use against Americans

-Obama to do photo op in White House situation room to show that he is doing something

IN RELATED NEWS:
-Benghazi terrorists still haven’t been killed, and no one held accountable for lacks security posture

Patriot Vet on January 17, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Electrongod on January 17, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Can you imagine how conflicted Obama is when something like this happens? How to cover for his jihadist buddies, how to blame it on Bush, etc.

Night Owl on January 17, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Another Benghazi non response ?

Lucano on January 17, 2013 at 9:18 AM

But the MSM leads with Obama’s gun control rally with kids as props.

mwbri on January 17, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Obama’s re-coronation is more important than a few lousy Americans.How sad to see what we have become.

jeffinsjvca on January 17, 2013 at 9:25 AM

CNN ^ | 1/17/13 | Said Chitour and Faith Karimi

Algiers, Algeria (CNN) — Islamist militants who seized Westerners at an Algerian gas plant are demanding safe passage to nearby Libya, authorities said, as fallout from the French offensive in Mali reverberates globally.

How is that leading with your behind Libyan adventure working out for you, Obysmal?

onlineanalyst on January 17, 2013 at 9:31 AM

the numbers aren’t adding up

This might not be that obvious, but if the terrorist were good at math, they probably wouldn’t have joined in the first place.

Just sayin’

LoganSix on January 17, 2013 at 9:32 AM

I expect this sort of thing to happen on a regular basis, now that the terrorists know there is nothing to fear from an Obama administration.

Night Owl on January 17, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Didnt take long for the gun banning to loose steam in media. Another obama failure in international politics. Terrorists do not fear us.

TX-96 on January 17, 2013 at 9:34 AM

BBC definitely looking at the brighter side of things. They are saying 8 militants and 6 foreign hostages killed with about 180 hostages freed. There definitely is a disconnect because they keep switching between “hostages” and “foreign hostages.”

BohicaTwentyTwo on January 17, 2013 at 9:42 AM

…Arab Spring!
.
.
.
…Hillary will fix it!
.
.
.
…there’s a photo opp there…somewhere!

KOOLAID2 on January 17, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Did the straffing aircraft had a large capacity magazine?

Ted Torgerson on January 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM

No, but the clip on that thing is too big. Seriously. Who needs a clip that size?

Washington Nearsider on January 17, 2013 at 9:59 AM

But Sheriff Joe told us the GM was alive and Al Queda was dead????

HumpBot Salvation on January 17, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Another Benghazi non response ?

Lucano on January 17, 2013 at 9:18 AM

.
Benghazi was worse than a “non response”. MUCH worse.

listens2glenn on January 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Where’s black Jesus? Shooting hoops or answering letters from little kids? Where’s our future President H. Clinton? Probably getting some sleep because she looks like hell. Where’s the MSM on this situation?
Probably dancing on the Today show.

Hummer53 on January 17, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Good thing they didn’t take an ambassador…

Fallon on January 17, 2013 at 10:25 AM

“Who is this Al Geria person? Never heard of him or Ben Gazzi.”
/libtard

“Those people are always fighting over there. And in other news, a box of puppies was found on the interstate.”
/lamestream

Brat on January 17, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Didn’t Obama tell us Al Qaeda is defeated and all of this is only because of a video? I’ll bet the LIV that watch Honey Boo Boo and voted for Obama haven’t heard anything of this from ABC/NBC/CBS/MSNBC, et al.

TulsAmerican on January 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Another Benghazi non response ?

Lucano on January 17, 2013 at 9:18 AM

.
Benghazi was worse than a “non response”. MUCH worse.

listens2glenn on January 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Agree , just pointing out the absurdity .
The obscene absurdity .

Lucano on January 17, 2013 at 10:55 AM

41- 20-35= WHATEVER — If your schools only teach the Koran, math is hard and you are no count.

KW64 on January 17, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Rambeaux’s War

Resist We Much on January 17, 2013 at 11:41 AM

So essentially we don’t know what happened. An Algerian helo strafed the place? Not buying that.

dogsoldier on January 17, 2013 at 12:10 PM