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Islamic Militants Take Hostages On Algerian Gas Field, Some U.S. Citizens

Agnus Dei Farrant |
January 16, 2013 | 1:37 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed Americans are being held hostage (Creative Commons).
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed Americans are being held hostage (Creative Commons).
Islamic guerrillas have killed two people and taken several dozen hostages, including American citizens, on Wednesday on a remote gas-production facility in Algeria, The Washington Post reported. Most of the hostages are European. 

Military and State Department officials are trying to find out what happened and how many American hostages were taken, Politico reported.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed to reporters while traveling in Italy that Americans were being held in a “terrorist attack” and that the U.S. “will take all necessary and proper steps,” according to the Associated Press. 

Foreign press reports indicate that Islamist insurgents attacked the field in retaliation for the French-led international campaign against al-Qaida insurgents in Mali that also included U.S. intelligence, logistics and military support, Politico reported. Panetta, however, said it’s unclear if the insurgents are related to al-Qaida-affiliated groups that France is fighting. 

From The Washington Post: 

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack and said 41 hostages were seized, seven of them Americans. It said the attack was in retaliation for Algeria’s decision to allow France to use its airspace to send warplanes to neighboring Mali, where French forces have been conducting airstrikes and support operations since last week to aid Malian troops in their battle against Islamist insurgents.

One operator of the gas field, BP, released a statement saying that the Amenas gas field had been “attacked and occupied by a group of unidentified armed people at about 0500 U.K. time. Contact with the site is extremely difficult, but we understand that armed individuals are still occupying the In Amenas operations site…We do not have confirmed information on the identity or intention of the people occupying the site.”


Reach Executive Producer Agnus Dei Farrant here.



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