Algerian army storms gas field, frees 600, 50 dead
(Translated from ABAMAKO//1/17/2013//1000PST)
ALGIERS - Algerian army `s` gave the assault Thursday against gas site in the Sahara desert where hundreds of people were held by a jihadist commando, releasing some 600 Algerians according to `Algerian news agency, but by fifty dead including a majority of `hostages, according to an Islamist.
These assessments don `t have been independently confirmed but Paris, Oslo and London have confirmed that` an operation was underway.
D `other hand, according to` Algerian APS agency, four hostages - one French, two Britons and a Kenyan, were released during the `operation against Islamists who demand the end of the` French military intervention in Mali.
The Islamist commando had some 40 foreigners for more than 24 hours.
`The APS has also announced the release of 600 hostages in Algeria.
Seven foreigners were still alive after the raid that claimed the lives of 34 other hostages but their survival is threatened by the continuation of the `assault
said a spokesman for the group linked to Al-Qaeda kidnapping author, quoted by the agency Mauritanian ANI.
"The combat aircraft and ground units began an attempt to force the complex," he said, threatening to "kill all the hostages" if Algerian forces succeed in entering the gas complex.
The spokesman said that the Islamists `they tried" to carry some of the hostages to a safer place in vehicles "` when the Algerian army bombed, killing 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers.
"Three Belgians, two Americans, a Japanese and a Briton have survived," he added.
Before the "confused situation" evolving "d` hourly ", French President François Hollande told to" confidence Algerian authorities "to manage the crisis.
More than 24 hours after you start taking hostages `s the exact number as the nationality of the hostages remained to clarify: there are over forty d` d `Westerners, including seven Americans, two Britons, Japanese, Irishman , a Norwegian, and at least 150 Algerians.
One or French are also prisoners, according to the president Hollande, who declined to give further details `s about it. There would also Malaysians and Filipinos.
`Thirty Algerians were able to escape` s around the complex, said Thursday Prefecture `Illizi. D `other Algerians were released Wednesday by small groups.
Fifteen foreigners, including a French couple have managed to do the same, according to Algerian Ennahar private channel.
The site `Amenas, operated by the British group BP, Statoil and Sonatrach Algeria` s is located 1300 km southeast of Algiers `, near the Libyan border.
BP said Thursday that it was being `d` d `evacuate Algeria" a group of non-essential "Algeria` s.
Algiers has ruled out any negotiations with the kidnappers, who provided react "to the crusade by the French forces in Mali." One British and one
Algeria were killed Wednesday `s attack site.
The kidnappers themselves as the "Signatories by blood," name katiba (fighting unit) `s Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, nicknamed" the
Blind "or" Mister Marlboro "for his alleged trafficking cigarettes, recently deposed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The attackers said they were from Mali, located more than 1,200 kilometers away, but the Algerian Minister of Interior stated that `they were from the region and seem to want to" leave the country with the hostages, which not be accepted by the Algerian authorities. "
A complex operation has obviously been mounted long, long before the `French intervention in Mali, even if it is presented as the first retaliatory action on this commitment, according to experts.