News24

Algeria: 5 kidnappers captured

2013-01-21 11:20

In Amenasb - Algerian troops reportedly found the bodies of 25 hostages and captured five kidnappers at a remote gas plant after a bloodbath of captives that France called an "act of war" by Islamist militants.

Algeria's government - the target of widespread foreign dismay last week at its decision to send in the army - warned that the final death toll would likely be higher, but was only set to give an official figure later on Monday.

Governments scrambled to track down missing citizens as more details emerged after Saturday's final showdown between special forces and extremists who took hundreds hostage, demanding an end to French military intervention in Mali.

No official images of the attack have been released. But survivors took photos, seen by AFP, showing bodies riddled with bullets, some with their heads half blown away by the impact of the gunfire.

"They were brutally executed," said an Algerian who identified himself as Brahim, after escaping the ordeal, referring to Japanese victims gunned down by the hostage-takers.

At least 23 foreigners and Algerians, mostly hostages, were confirmed killed after the militants seized control of the In Amenas gas plant deep in the Sahara desert on Wednesday.

Thirty-two kidnappers were also killed in the standoff, and the army freed 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners, the interior ministry said.

Ennahar television reported that another 25 bodies of hostages were found on Sunday as security forces combed through the sprawling complex run by Britain's BP, Norway's Statoil and Sonatrach of Algeria.

"Five terrorists were found still alive this morning [on Sunday]" at the plant, the private TV station added. But "three others are at large", station director Anis Rahmani told AFP.

"I fear that it [the toll] may be revised upward," Algerian Communications Minister Mohamed Said told a radio station, ahead of a news conference at 1330 GMT on Monday by Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal.