100 freed from Algeria hostage crisis: Reports

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 19, 2013 02:49 hrs

Algiers: Around 100 foreigners taken hostage inside a gas plant by Islamist militants were freed by Algerian forces on Friday while the fate of another 32 remained unknown, media reports said.

Another report said around 30 hostages were killed along with 18 of the militants in the operation against the three-day standoff in the northwestern African nation.

Around 10 people from Japan, eight from Norway were among those still unaccounted for while British Prime Minister David Cameron said the number of Britons still at risk was "significantly" less than 30.

Algerian forces had moved in on the gas plant on Thursday, around 30 hours after the siege began, the country's state news agency APS said, adding that the group had planned to take the hostages to Mali.

The militants had offered to trade two captive American workers for two terrorists jailed in the United States, according to a statement received by a Mauritanian news site.

The hostage crisis had sparked off on Wednesday when the militants first tried to hijack two buses at the plant but then went to seize the sprawling desert facility after being repulsed.

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