Escaped hostage says captors 'foreign'

2013-01-19 14:51
The Amenas gas field in eastern Algeria near the Libyan border where Algerian troops surrounded Islamists holding foreign hostages. (AFP)

The Amenas gas field in eastern Algeria near the Libyan border where Algerian troops surrounded Islamists holding foreign hostages. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

In Amenas - An Algerian man who escaped from Islamists holding foreign hostages at a gas plant in the Sahara desert told AFP on Saturday his captors spoke in different Arabic dialects and also in English.

"I saw five inside the plant, but I don't know how many others were outside," said Iba El Haza, a driver at the BP gas plant near the Libyan border, of his Islamist captors.

"From their accents I understood one was Egyptian, one Tunisian, another Algerian and one was speaking English or a foreign language."

Haza escaped during a rescue attempt launched on Thursday by Algerian Special Forces which officials say killed 12 hostages and 18 of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist captors.

The "Signatories of Blood", a group led by veteran jihadist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, says it still holds several foreigners including Belgians, Americans, one Japanese and a Briton.

"I saw two Filipinos (hostages), another who said he was American and two others who I don't know what their nationality was. They were close to us," Haza said.

"The first (Algerian army) attack was around 09:00 am [08:00GMT] on Thursday. We decided then to leave... We went straight to the army. We had broken the padlocks (on the door of the room they were held in) and we left," he said.

Armed captors

He added that his captors were armed with AK-47s, machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades, and that they told him they were interested only in keeping the foreigners hostage.

"The terrorists said: 'You have nothing to do with this, you are Algerians and Muslims. We won't keep you, we only want the foreigners'."

Algerian forces launched their rescue attempt on Thursday, a day after the kidnappers seized the plant to demand an end to French military action against Islamists in neighbouring Mali.

Algiers was slammed internationally for the haste with which it launched the dramatic assault.

An AFP correspondent said five coffins were taken to a hospital in nearby In Amenas on Saturday morning, where the wounded who escaped after the army's raid were being treated.

Military helicopters were circling the gas plant, inside which the remaining hostages are holed up with their captors, according to a security source.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    algeria  |  north africa  |  algeria hostage crisis
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Jones: Japan can be 'team of the tournament'
Tuilagi gets punishment cut
As it happened: New Zealand 47-9 Tonga
Wales look to Biggar for big impact
Traffic Alerts

The phrase for today is:”Out of the blue.” Expect the unexpected and work with the changeable energy. Your intuition is more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.