Algeria Hostages' Fate Uncertain
[ONLINE.WSJ] The Algerian army attempted to take control of the gas field where suspected Islamic militants are holding foreign hostages, the site's operator BP said Thursday, amid unconfirmed news reports that there had been casualties in the operation.
And other unconfirmed reports that somewhere between one and 41 of the hostages have escaped and/or been killed or wounded...
British Prime Minister David Cameron
... has stated that he is
certainly a big Thatcher fan, but I don't know whether that makes me a Thatcherite, which means he's not. Since he is
not deeply ideological he lacks core principles and is easily led. He has been described as
certainly not a Pitt, Elder or Younger, but he does wear a nice suit so maybe he's Beau Brummel ...
only found out about the military operation after it was under way, a front man for Mr. Cameron said Thursday afternoon.
After destroying the GAI and whittling down the GSPC, Algeria probably doesn't think it needs advice or consent from anyone...
Several news agencies reported that some hostages and hostage-takers had been killed by air strikes by the Algerian army at the In Amenas natural-gas field.
They have obviously come to the conclusion that negotiations with Mokhtar or Droukdel will result in precisely squat. While there are a finite number of AQIM, the number of potential hostages is effectively infinite.
The Mauritanian news agency ANI cited a front man for the Islamic fascisti as saying his group was trying to transport some of the hostages to a more secure location, but they were hit by Algerian air strikes.
Once they've been moved they're effectively lost to the govt's control and influence.
No government has confirmed the reports of deaths, nor have the companies that operate the site.
It's doubtful they know anything apart from the AQIM press releases, which aren't what you'd call reliable.
Earlier Thursday, Algerian state media reported that 30 hostages, including some foreigners, had escaped. The reports couldn't be independently confirmed.
At least one, an Irishman, has gotten away, since he's called home to his family...
BP said it had been "been informed by the U.K. and Algerian governments that the Algerian army is attempting to take control of the In Amenas site. The situation remains unclear and we continue to seek updates from the authorities."
The alternative is to leave it in the control of Mokhtar's gunnies. The end result of that will be either the death or the ransom (by BP) of the hostage and the destruction of the natural gas plant.
The energy major said it was aware of reports of casualties, "but we are still lacking any confirmed or reliable information. There are also reports of hostages being released or escaping."
I'm guessing Algeria's position is to keep the hostage casualties as low as they can but to destroy the turbans. Especially if there's a chance Mokhtar is there.
The Irish government said an Irish man who had been a hostage is safe and had made contact with his family.
I said that.
There's another report that says two Americans have escaped. There'll likely be a movie about that one, only with AQIM changed to neo-Nazi rednecks or something.
The White House said Thursday it is trying to determine the status of American hostages. Press Secretary Jay Carney said the B.O. regime is in contact with the Algerian government and BP.
I still feel a bit of irritation at the "America-centric" approach to the situation. It would be just as serious if none of the hostage had been American. But we tend not to notice when Chinese or Frenchies are kidnapped. When it's Algerians or Mauritanians it probably won't even make the paper.
Mr. Cameron's front man said Mr. Cameron called Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalik Sellal late Thursday morning and it was then that his Algerian counterpart informed him the military operation was under way. He added that Mr. Cameron had stressed in an earlier call between the two that he wanted to be informed beforehand.
"Sorry. I was busy."
"The Algerian government is aware we would have preferred to have been contacted in advance," the front man said. He added that the Algerian prime minister said that hadn't been possible because of the fast-moving nature of events.
Good OPSEC precludes a press release hitting the Daily Mail before the rockets hit the bad guys...
The front man declined to comment on reports of casualties but said there were several British nationals among the hostages. "We are doing as much as possible to establish what is going on on the ground," he added.
"We'll let you know shortly after we know!"
The U.K. had told the Algerians that "we wanted to work through the Algerian government and the company to try and resolve the situation as peacefully as possible," the front man said.
Meaning they were willing to lay out the money for the ransom...
The operation remained ongoing and was being entirely conducted by Algerian authorities, according to the front man, who said the British government was "in constant contact."
"Algerian prime minister speaking!"
"London calling! Any word?"
"No. Call back later."
"Algerian prime minister speaking!"
"It's me again! Any word?"
"No. Call back later."
The Algerians haven't requested military assistance, the front man said. "The incident is taking place on Algerian sovereign territory," he added.
One thing the Algerians have lotsa practice at is fighting terrorists.
During the roughly 15-minute call Thursday morning with the Algerian prime minister, Mr. Cameron "expressed his views about the seriousness and gravity of the situation," the front man said.
"Thanks for your opinion. I'll get back to you."
Mr. Cameron also discussed the situation by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama
In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died -- an entire town destroyed...
and French President François Hollande.
"Barack? Have you heard anything?"
"No. They told me to call back later."
"Francois? This is David..."
Mr. Hollande said Thursday the hostage crisis in Algeria was "unfolding in a dramatic way." Mr. Hollande didn't elaborate on the circumstances at in Algeria.
"I'll let you know when something happens! Call back later!"
Posted by: Fred