Algeria gas field siege ends with at least 23 hostages dead

20 January 2013

Algerian army kills 32 suspected terrorists at In Amenas, which is close to Libyan border

The siege at the In Amenas gas field has ended with the deaths of 23 hostages and 32 Islamist terrorists after a raid by Algeria’s People’s National Army (ANP) Special Forces.

Reports by state news agency, the Algeria Press Service (APS), stated that the army initially raided the compound on 17 January as the kidnappers were moving their captives. Reports from Algeria said this led to more than 20 terrorists being killed, as well as the deaths of 16 hostages. Reports also state some hostages escaped to safety during this operation.

On 19 January, a second raid brought an end to the siege with the death of another 11 terrorists. It is believed the last seven hostages were executed before the final assault.

The nationalities of some of the hostages are still not confirmed, but the dead includes citizens from Japan, the UK, Norway and the US.       

The siege began on 16 January with an attack on a bus carrying workers to an air field. The situation escalated when the terrorists then attacked an accommodation compound and main gas processing area.  

In a statement, the terrorists said that the attack was in response to French military intervention in neighbouring Mali against Islamist insurgents.

The reaction from the world’s leading political figures has been sympathetic to the Algerian government for its handling of a complex situation. US President Barack Obama said that the situation was a reminder of the “threat posed by Al-Qaeda and other violent extremist groups in North Africa”.

French President Francois Hollande said the Algerian response was the “most suitable”.

The In Amenas gas field is operated by the UK’s BP in partnership with Norway’s Statoil and the Algeria’s state-owned oil major Sonatrach. It is located close to Algeria’s border with Libya, about 40 kilometres southwest of the town of In Amenas and 1,300km southeast of Algiers.

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