Hostage situation ends in Algeria, 7 hostages killed

posted at 11:31 am on January 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Algerian special forces conducted a final raid on a natural-gas processing center in an attempt to end the standoff between al-Qaeda-linked terrorists and the government.  The raid killed eleven terrorists, but not before the terrorists killed seven more hostages:

Algeria’s special forces stormed a natural gas complex in the middle of the Sahara desert in a final assault Saturday, killing 11 militants, but not before they in turn killed seven hostages, the state news agency reported.

The report, quoting a security source, didn’t specify if any hostages or militants remained alive or give the nationalities of the dead.

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.

Algeria had been embarrassed by an earlier attempt this week, which killed both terrorists and hostages without resolving the situation.  Some had questioned why Algeria hadn’t tried negotiating with the AQ-linked terrorists, to which they answered that Algeria will not negotiate with terrorists … just like the US.

How many of the hostages were left alive — if any? Or for that matter, how many of the terrorists?  So far, it’s not clear what the survival numbers from the assault were:

The Algerian army has secured control of the natural-gas field where hostages were held by Islamist militants for four days after a final assault on the complex, an Algerian industry official said Saturday.

The official said some hostages had been killed during the assault but that he did not yet have a precise account.

The official said Algerian soldiers were still combing the site to search for explosives allegedly planted in the facility by militants.

The U.K. foreign office said that a large majority of British nationals involved in the hostage crisis were safe. It said that fewer than 10 British people are now at risk or unaccounted for. That is down significantly from Thursday night, when there were fewer thank 30 British people at risk.

Reuters reports that at least some of the hostages survived:

The exact death toll among the gunmen and the foreign and Algerian workers at the plant near the town of In Amenas close to the Libyan border remained unclear.

Earlier on Saturday, Algerian special forces found 15 burned bodies at the plant. Efforts were under way to identify the bodies, the source told Reuters, and it was not clear how they had died.

Sixteen foreign hostages were freed on Saturday, a source close to the crisis said. They included two Americans, two Germans and one Portuguese. Britain said fewer than 10 of its nationals at the plant were unaccounted for.

The attack on the plant swiftly turned into one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades, pushing Saharan militancy to the top of the global agenda.

Remember that when people try to tell us that the radical Islamist terrorist networks are “decimated.”

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