January 18, 2013

Algeria: Nearly 100 of 132 foreign hostages freed

The militants, meanwhile, reportedly offered to trade two American hostages for terror figures jailed in the United States.

Karim Kabir and Paul Schemm / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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This satellite image shows the Amenas Gas Field in Algeria, which is jointly operated by BP and Norway's Statoil and Algeria's Sonatrach.

AP / DigitalGlobe

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Statoil CEO Helge Lund, left, and director of foreign operations Lars Christian Bacher leave a meeting at the Statoil headquarters building in Stavanger, Norway, during Thursday’s hostage crisis.

The Associated Press

Workers kidnapped by the militants came from around the world — Americans, Britons, French, Norwegians, Romanians, Malaysians, Japanese, Algerians.

World leaders have expressed strong concerns in the past few days about how Algeria was handing the situation and its apparent reluctance to communicate.

Terrorized hostages from Ireland and Norway trickled out of the Ain Amenas plant, 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) south of Algiers, the capital. BP, which jointly operates the plant, said it had begun to evacuate employees from Algeria.

"This is a large and complex site and they are still pursuing terrorists and possibly some of the hostages," British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday in London.

He told British lawmakers the situation remained fluid and dangerous, saying "part of the threat has been eliminated in one part of the site, a threat still remains in another part."

A U.S. military C-130 transport plane flew a number of people including former Ain Amenas hostages from the Algerian capital of Algiers to a U.S. facility in Europe, a U.S. official said. He declined to be specific about the destination, their nationalities or the extent of the wounds that he said some had.

A flood of foreign energy workers were being evacuated from the North African nation amid security concerns.

BP evacuated one U.S. citizen along with other foreign energy workers from Algeria to Mallorca and then London. The oil giant said three flights left Algeria on Thursday, carrying 11 BP employees and several hundred energy workers from other companies.

A fourth plane was taking more people out of the country on Friday, BP said.

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