- Title: ALGERIA: Algerian JGC worker says Japanese workers killed
- Date: 19th January 2013
- Summary: ALGIERS, ALGERIA (JANUARY 19, 2013) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF AL-AZHAR HOSPITAL WHERE SURVIVORS OF HOSTAGE TAKING ARE BEING TREATED
- Embargoed: 3rd February 2013 12:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Disasters,Economic News
- Reuters ID: LVA2CF7OV3KQFIO7YW29EAQSF18F
- Story Text: Algerian television shows footage of men describing their experiences at the desert gas plant seized by Islamist fighters, one of the men says the militants targeted foreign workers.
More than 20 foreigners were captive or missing inside a desert gas plant on Saturday (January 19), nearly two days after the Algerian army launched an assault to free them that saw many hostages killed.
The standoff between the army and al Qaeda-linked gunmen - one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades - entered its fourth day, having thrust Saharan militancy to the top of the global agenda.
The number and fate of victims has yet to be confirmed, with the Algerian government keeping officials from Western countries far from the site where their countrymen were in peril.
Reports put the number of hostages killed at between 12 to 30, with possibly dozens of foreigners still unaccounted for - among them Norwegians, Japanese, Britons, Americans and others.
Some of the workers freed from the plant were being treated at Al-Azhar hospital, a private hospital in the Dali Brahim area of Algiers on Saturday.
Overnight, Algerian television channel Ennahar TV showed footage of men describing what happened at the gas plant. The speakers said they were Algerian workers at the plant.
"They attacked us at 5:30 am. When we heard the shooting we all went out to see what was happening, so then we ran and hid. Some of us died and some hid in the bedrooms. Some of the terrorists followed us to the bedrooms. They are from different nationalities - some of them are Libyans, others Tunisians, and [there was] even a Canadian," said one man.
"Terrorists killed the Japanese and released us, I saw five dead bodies in the kitchen," said JGC worker Ali Touati.
"Their objective was the foreign workers but they killed some Algerians by mistake," he added.
On Saturday, the Algerian military was holding the vast residential barracks at the In Amenas gas processing plant, while gunmen were holed up in the industrial plant itself with an undisclosed number of hostages, making it difficult for Algerian special forces to intervene.
Scores of Westerners and hundreds of Algerian workers were inside the heavily fortified compound when it was seized before dawn on Wednesday (January 16) by Islamist fighters who said they wanted a halt to a French military operation in neighbouring Mali.
Hundreds escaped on Thursday (January 17) when the army launched an operation, but many hostages were killed in the assault. Algerian forces destroyed four trucks holding hostages, according to the family of a Northern Irish engineer who escaped from a fifth truck and survived.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None