News24

Hostage-takers from 7 countries

2013-01-21 21:26

Algiers - Eleven of the 32 Islamist gunmen who attacked a remote desert gas complex in southeastern Algeria seizing hundreds of hostages were Tunisian, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said on Monday.

"Eleven Tunisians and three Algerians were among the group of 32 terrorists who attacked the Tiguentourine gas complex last Wednesday," Sellal told a news conference in Algiers, where he gave a final death toll from siege of 37 foreigners and an Algerian.

He said 29 of the hostage-takers were killed in the four-day crisis, which ended on Saturday with Algerian forces storming the remaining part of the complex still in militant hands.

The other kidnappers who attacked the In Amenas gas complex, which lies about 250km south of Tunisia, close to the Libyan border, were Canadian, Egyptian, Malian, Nigerien and Mauritanian.

The alleged mastermind of the hostage-taking, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, had said in a video posted online that the attack was carried out by 40 fighters from the Muslim world and "European countries".

His al-Qaeda-linked group "Signatories in Blood" threatened to stage attacks on nations involved in the French-led operation to evict Islamists from Algeria's neighbour Mali, and said it had been open to negotiations.

Tunisia's radical Islamist movement, which was banned under the regime of former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has carried out numerous attacks since he was ousted in a popular uprising, including on the US embassy and a neighbouring American school in Tunis last September.