Hostage recounts Algerian escape
British gas worker, Tony Grisedale says he narrowly escaped the Islamist hostage-takers by laying low in a darkened room.PT1M7S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2d3op 620 349 January 22, 2013
IN AMENAS: Up to five of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamists who carried out last week's attack on the Algerian gas plant were employees, security sources have disclosed.
One of those was of French nationality, the sources said, in what appears to be a blow to those in charge of safety at the In Amenas plant.
On Sunday Algerian security forces made grisly discoveries of 25 more charred bodies, a day after they mounted a final assault at the remote Sahara plant, apparently leaving the kidnappers and remaining captives dead.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Photo: AFP
Those discoveries, plus the death of a Romanian hostage who succumbed to his injuries after escaping, appeared likely to take the overall death toll to more than 80, though no official figures have yet clarified contradictory estimates from various sources. It was unclear whether the newly discovered bodies were those of hostages or captors.
The unnamed Frenchman is said to have changed sides once his comrades had broken into the site after attacking buses carrying workers at a false checkpoint. He then took part in the kidnapping operation before being killed during the Algerian army assault.
Some of the attackers had known internal procedures at the plant and the room numbers of foreign workers.
The police have opened an investigation into four other workers who survived the attack on suspicion of helping the kidnappers enter the plant.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who has been linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday, describing it as a ''blessed operation''.
In a video message posted online, Belmokhtar, the leader of a militant brigade called ''Those who Sign with Blood'', confirmed his involvement and said the operation was carried out by 40 Islamist fighters, including several Westerners.
''We in al-Qaeda announce this blessed operation,'' Belmokhtar said. ''We are ready to negotiate with the West and the Algerian government provided they stop their bombing of Mali's Muslims.''
Up to five of the kidnappers are believed to have been captured alive, it has emerged. The Algerian government earlier said all 32 kidnappers had been ''neutralised'', leaving open the possibility that not all were dead.
''One gave himself up after running out of munitions, while two more were picked up by Algerian special forces after being injured,'' one local security source said.
Britain's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said some of the hostages had probably been executed. ''That sort of thing is quite likely to have happened,'' he said.
Algeria's Energy Minister said the plant would be operating again within two days.
''We will strengthen security,'' Youcef Yousfi said during a visit to the complex, adding that Algiers would not accept any foreign help to do so.
Telegraph, London; The Washington Post; Agence France-Presse