News Column

Some 50 Hostages Feared Dead in Algeria

Jan. 21, 2013

The final death toll from last week's terrorist attack at a gas complex in Algeria was expected Monday, amid fears that the number of hostages killed could be twice as high as initially reported.

El Watan newspaper reported that "about 30" bodies of hostages and troops were found at the complex Sunday, a day after the final assault ended a four-day standoff with al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.

Ennahar broadcaster reported Sunday that 25 bodies had been found.

Some of the bodies discovered Sunday by security forces as they were combing through the site for mines had been blown apart by explosives, El Watan reported. Others were charred or had bullet wounds.

Most of the bodies were believed to be those of hostages.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was expected to confirm the final death toll at a press conference later Monday.

Information Minister Mohammed Said said Saturday that 23 hostages and 32 gunmen had been killed, but warned that figure "risked being revised upwards."

A dozen foreign countries had nationals working at the site, alongside more than 600 Algerians.

The Philippines became the latest country Monday to confirm victims among the hostages. Six Filipino workers were killed and four were still missing, the government in Manila said.

Britain at the weekend confirmed three dead and three missing.

France, the United States and Romania have also confirmed victims.

The heavily armed extremists, linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), began their attack at the remote In Amenas complex in the Sahara desert on Wednesday.

They claimed they were aimed at avenging France's military intervention against three Islamist groups in neighbouring Mali, including AQIM. Surviving hostages have cast doubt on that claim, saying the attack appeared to have been planned for many months.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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