US monitoring Algeria hostage situation

2013-01-16 21:02
The Amenas natural gas field in the eastern central region of Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday.(BP, AP)

The Amenas natural gas field in the eastern central region of Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday.(BP, AP)

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Washington - The White House said on Wednesday it was closely monitoring the situation in Algeria after armed Islamists seized 41 Western hostages including seven Americans in an attack on a gas field.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and are in touch with the Algerians and our other partners in the region," National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor told AFP.

The Islamists told the Mauritanian News Agency and Sahara Media that 41 Westerners, including seven Americans, [as well as] French, British and Japanese citizens have been taken hostage."

Algeria's APS news agency said two people were killed, including a Briton, and six injured in the dawn attack by suspected al-Qaeda loyalists in Tigantourine in southern Algeria.

The gas field is jointly operated by British oil giant BP, Norway's Statoil and state-run Algerian energy firm Sonatrach.

On Tuesday, Algeria announced it had closed its border with Mali, following a French offensive against al-Qaeda in its southern neighbour, but the 2 000km desert frontier is almost impossible to seal.

Reuters meanwhile reports that Thirteen Norwegian employees of Norwegian energy firm Statoil are [also] involved in the hostage situation in Algeria. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the report.

The 13 employees are believed to be held inside the natural gas facility, Stoltenberg told a news conference on Wednesday.

Read more on:    bp  |  statoil  |  norway  |  algeria  |  us  |  mali  |  north africa  |  algeria hostage crisis  |  algeris hostage crisis

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