Algeria's military operation to free foreign hostages held by Islamist gunmen ends

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 18, 2013 05:40 hrs

An attack by Algeria's military to free dozens of foreign hostages held by Islamist gunmen at a gas plant is reportedly over.

Algeria's military launched a raid at the In Amenas complex, near the border with Libya. The country's state news agency APS said the army had ended its operation.

According to Sky News, sources said the main accommodation complex had been secured, while a search was ongoing in a gas storage area.

Algerian communications minister Mohammed Said Belaid said that the operation was successful in neutralizing a large number of terrorists and freeing a large number of hostages, but unfortunately, there were some deaths and injuries.

Militants earlier said they were holding seven Americans, but US officials confirmed only that Americans were among those taken, the report said.

Fox News reported that two Americans managed to escape the compound and were en route to London.

According to the report, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said counterterrorism officials were in touch with their Algerian counterparts and that she planned to speak with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal for the second time in as many days.

An American military official said at least one US unarmed drone was flying over the complex.

There have been conflicting reports as to the number of casualties, with an international news agency citing a local source as saying six foreign hostages and eight rebels were killed, the report said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain should be 'prepared for the possibility of further bad news' in the crisis.

One British citizen is known to have died on Wednesday, while several others were caught up in the drama.

Al Qaeda-linked militant group Katibat Moulathamine - The Masked Ones - said it was behind the attack.

The group said it was retaliating for French military intervention against al Qaeda-backed rebels in neighbouring Mali, where France now has 1,400 troops on the ground, the report added. (ANI)

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