Hostage operation over with high casualties
[VOA News] Algeria's state-run news agency says the military operation at the natural gas complex where Islamic militants seized 41 foreign hostages has ended.

But firm information on the fate of the captives is hard to confirm.

The country's communications minister, Mohamed Said, said a "large number of terrorists were neutralized" during the raid. But he also said that several hostages were killed.

A news agency in Mauritania quoted a militant spokesman as saying 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers were killed when Algerian helicopters attacked as the militants tried to move the hostages. That report has not been independently confirmed.

Algeria's news agency reports four hostages - one from Kenya, one from France, and two from Britain - were freed. Other hostages are believed to include Norwegians, Japanese and Americans.

Al-Qaida-linked militants stormed the Amenas gas complex in eastern Algeria Wednesday for what they say is retaliation for French military operations in Mali. Islamic militants also with ties to al-Qaida are in control of northern Mali and have threatened to move towards the capital.

The gas complex is jointly run by Algerian, British and Norwegian firms. The Pentagon says it is ready to intervene if Algeria asks for help, and a Defense Department official would not deny reports that the U.S. sent a drone over Algeria.
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-17