U.S. Official Says Two More Americans Killed in Algeria Gas Plant Attack
Bill Hemmer just told us of reports that two more Americans have been confirmed dead after the terrorist raid on a gas plant in Algeria, bringing the total to three Americans.
Below is more from FoxNews.com:
Thirty-seven foreign hostages were killed during the four-day-long terrorist siege at a natural gas plant in Algeria, including two more Americans, the country's prime minister and a U.S. official said Monday. Three Islamist militants were said to be captured alive and at least two Canadians were among the terrorist group that took hundreds hostage.
Seven Americans made it out of the gas plant safely, but three had died, the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter
The official said the FBI had recovered the bodies of the Americans and notified their families. The official
had no details on how the Americans died.
Abdelmalek Sellal, Algeria's prime minister, added on Monday that the kidnappers came from Egypt, Canada, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia. One of them was a former driver who worked at the facility. He said a number of the hostages had been found killed by a bullet to the head.
Algerian forces took control of the facility from the terrorists on Saturday, when they stormed the site and killed 32.
There has been no mention whether Mokhtar Belmoktar, the leader of the Al Qaeda-linked group behind the attack -- the Masked Brigade -- was among the captured or killed.
The death toll from the standoff reached 81 on Sunday as Algerian forces searching the refinery for explosives found dozens more bodies, many so badly disfigured it was unclear whether they were hostages or militants, a security official said. Government officials said the Islamic extremists plotted to blow up the complex and kill all their captives with mines sown throughout the site.
In a statement, the Masked Brigade warned of more such attacks against any country backing France's military intervention in neighboring Mali, where the French are trying to stop an advance by Islamic extremists.
"We stress to our Muslim brothers the necessity to stay away from all the Western companies and complexes for their own safety, and especially the French ones," the statement said.
Belmoktar, a one-eyed Algerian in his 40s known in Pentagon circles as "MBM," just split off from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, to start the Masked Brigade.
Over the past decade, AQIM has kidnapped dozens of foreigners, including diplomats, aid workers, field doctors and tourists.
Belmoktar prefers to trade his hostages for money, experts have said, and global intelligence unit Stratfor says he can get an estimated $3 million per European captive.
During the gas plant standoff, seven Japanese citizens were killed and three remain missing, Japan's prime minister said Monday. Three Britons were also killed and another three were feared dead.
"Now, of course, people will ask questions about the Algerian response to these events, but I would just say that the responsibility for these deaths lies squarely with the terrorists who launched a vicious and cowardly attack," British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
Philippine Foreign Affairs officials said six Filipinos were among the hostages killed. Spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters that 16 Filipinos have been accounted for and four others are still missing.
The dead hostages were also known to include at least one American and French workers. Nearly two dozen foreigners by some estimates were unaccounted for.
It was unclear whether anyone was rescued in the final assault on the complex, which is run by the Algerian state oil company along with BP and Norway's Statoil.
Authorities said the bloody takeover was carried out Wednesday by 32 men from six countries in the Masked Brigade. The attacking force called itself "Those Who Sign in Blood."
The Masked Brigade said Sunday the attack was payback against Algeria for allowing over-flights of French aircraft headed to Mali and for closing its long border with Mali. In an earlier communication, the Brigade claimed to have carried out the attack in the name of Al Qaeda.
Armed with heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, missiles and grenades, the militants singled out foreign workers at the plant, killing some of them on the spot and attaching explosive belts to others.
Algeria's tough and uncompromising response to the crisis was typical of its take-no-prisoners approach in confronting terrorists, favoring military action over negotiation. Algerian military forces, backed by attack helicopters, launched two assaults on the plant, the first one on Thursday.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said the terrorists had tried to blow up the plant on Saturday but managed only to start a small fire. "That's when they started to execute hostages, and the special forces intervened," Eide said. Norway's Statoil said five Norwegians were still missing.
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