Clinton urges Algeria to preserve innocent life
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells Algeria to do everything possible to protect hostages as it seeks to free them from militants at a natural gas complex in the Sahara.PT1M24S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2czlc 620 349 January 19, 2013
Twelve hostages have been killed since the Algerian army launched an operation against militants who seized hundreds of people at a remote gas complex, a security official says.
"As well as the 18 terrorists who were killed, 12 Algerian and foreign workers died," said the source, cited by Algeria's APS news agency on Friday, without giving any more details about the nationality or number of foreign casualties.
The official said it was a "provisional toll."
The In Amenas gas field. Algerian troops surrounded Islamists holding foreign hostages at the gas field. Photo: AFP
Islamist hostage-takers are still holding seven foreigners from the dozens they abducted, Mauritania's ANI news agency said on Friday, quoting the abductors.
Sources from the Al-Qaeda-linked group known as the "Signatories in Blood" told ANI "they are still holding seven foreigners in the plant, part of which they blew up in order to push back Algerian forces" who stormed the installation in a dramatic rescue operation.
The sources gave a breakdown of three Belgians, two Americans, a Japanese citizen and a Briton as still being held by the hostage-takers.
They also said that the kidnappers came from Niger and not Libya, as previously reported.
The gunmen want to swap the American hostages for Islamist prisoners held in the United States, the ANI news agency reported earlier, quoting sources close to group leader Mokhtar Belmokthar.
The abductors have also demanded negotiations for an end to French intervention in Mali, the report said.