Associated Press – AIN AMENAS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s special forces stormed a natural gas complex in the middle of the Sahara desert on Saturday in a “final assault” aimed at ending a four-day-old hostage crisis, the state news agency reported. It said 11 militants and seven hostages were killed.
The report, quoting a security source, didn’t say whether any hostages or militants remained alive, and it didn’t give the nationalities of the dead. It said the army was forced to intervene after a fire broke out in the plant.
The siege at the Ain Amenas plant, jointly run by BP, Norway’s Statoil and Algeria’s state-owned oil company, transfixed the world after radical Islamists stormed the complex, which contained hundreds of plant workers from all over the world.
Algeria’s response to the crisis was typical of the country’s history in confronting terrorists – military action over negotiation – and caused an international outcry from countries worried about their citizens.
The latest deaths bring the official Algerian tally of dead to 19 hostages and 29 militants, although reports on the number of dead, injured and freed have been contradictory throughout the crisis.