Twelve hostages have been killed at Algeria’s In Amenas gas complex since the start of a raid meant to liberate them and 30 were still being held by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda, reports said on Saturday.
Algeria’s state APS news agency provided the information about the fatalities, quoting security sources. They added that the number of dead was a provisional figure. APS did not say how many of the dead were foreign nationals and how many were Algerians.
A 52-year-old retired French soldier was among the victims, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. One US citizen also was killed, broadcaster NBC said, quoting a US official who said two Americans were still being held and two escaped.
The situation remained tense at the natural gas production complex in the Algerian desert. Aside from the US and Britain at least two other countries - Norway and Japan - have listed several nationals missing.
Algerian officials told APS earlier that around 100 of 132 foreign hostages had been freed and about 30 foreign workers remained unaccounted for. APS also reported that 18 gunmen had been killed out of an initial group of around 30.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the “utmost care must be taken to preserve human life,” and extended condolences to the families who have lost loved ones. “We remain deeply concerned about those who remain in danger,” Ms. Clinton said.
Ms. Clinton has spoken with the Algerian prime minister, but she declined to provide details about the ongoing situation.
APS said 573 Algerians were freed by Algerian special forces, who killed 18 militants in the raid, which took place on Thursday. El Watan newspaper reported that one of the gunmen has been arrested.
The US State Department said US citizens were among those still being held hostage. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also dismissed a prisoner swap demand by the militants, saying the United States does not negotiate with terrorists.