Militants: 35 hostages held in Algeria killed in assault

Posted Jan 17, 2013 by Greta McClain
Algerian security sources have told Reuters that 35 hostages being held at an oil field in Algeria have been killed. Fifteen kidnappers have also been killed, according to Al Jazeera.
Statoil gas production facility in Amenas  Algeria
Statoil gas production facility in Amenas, Algeria
Kjetil Alsvik / Statoil
On Wednesday, Digital Journal reported that members of the Al-Qaeda linked group Katibat Moulathamine, also known as Masked Brigade, had attacked a BP gas facility in Algeria, taking 41 foreign nationals working at the facility hostage.
According to an Associated Press report, 9 Norwegian, 7 Americans, at least 3 Japanese nations and 2 Malaysians were among those captured. One 36-year-old Irishman was also taken hostage. Officials with the British government did not have an exact number of British hostages,instead saying "several" were being held captive. French President Francois Hollande could not give an exact number of French hostages being held. It is believed that 3 Algerians are also being held.
Although details of the reported escapes are still sketchy, Reuters has reported that 25 hostages have been confirmed to have escaped according to Algerian security forces. According to a BBC report, Algeria's private Ennahar TV channel is saying that 15 hostages have escaped, while dozens have been killed.
BP oil field in Amenas Algeria
BP oil field in Amenas Algeria
Screen Capture
The spokesman for the Masked Brigade, which had claimed responsibility for the abductions on Wednesday, told Mauritanian ANI news agency that the deaths were a result of an Algerian government helicopter attack on a convoy transporting hostages and kidnappers, as Al Jazeera writes.
At 8:23 EST, the Associated Press has reported that members of the Algerian military have assaulted the complex where the hostages were believed to be held. Helicopters began firing on the complex and at least 2 of the Japanese captives have been injured.
The Mauritanian news outlet, which reportedly has close ties to Masked Brigade, is reporting that the helicopter assault has killed 35 of the foreign hostages, as well as 15 of the kidnappers. A spokesman for the Masked Brigade has said that the kidnapper's leader, Abou El Baraa, was among the kidnappers killed.
The Nouakchott Information Agency is confirming that 35 hostages and 15 terrorists have been killed in the helicopter assault.
Reports on the numbers of hostages killed have not been confirmed by other news sources at this time.
According to the BBC, at 8:56 EST the Prime Minister of Algeria notified David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, that a military operation was underway and that Algerian forces had attacked the compound where the hostages were held as the hostage takers were attempting to move the hostages to another location.
The Algerian Communication Ministry is telling the BBC they will have an official statement on the number of hostages killed once the military operation is complete.
Mauritania's ANI news agency is saying that two Americans, three Belgians, one British national and one Japanese person are still being held captive. This has not been confirmed by independent news agencies however.
More updates will be provided as they become available.