“The bodies could be either Algerian or foreign hostages,” he said.

Algerian special forces stormed the natural gas complex in the Sahara desert on Saturday to end the standoff, and the government said all 32 militants were killed. Earlier Sunday, Algeria’s chief government spokesman said he feared the toll of hostages – which stood at 23 on Saturday – would rise as the special forces teams finished their search.

He said the militants came from six countries and were armed to cause maximum destruction. Sonatrach, the Algerian state oil company running the Ain Amenas site along with BP and Norway’s Statoil, said the entire refinery had been mined.

“They had decided to succeed in the operation as planned, to blow up the gas complex and kill all the hostages,” said Communications Minister Mohamed Said, speaking on a state radio interview.