Thirty-five foreign hostages have been killed by Algerian forces who launched air strikes on the BP gas plant seized by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, militants claimed today.
Soldiers from the Saharan state attacked the gas field where dozens of Westerners including Britons and Americans were being held in revenge for France's assault on al-Qaeda rebels in neighbouring Mali.Helicopters began strafing the plant this morning, hours after the rebels had threatened to blow up the hostages if they intervened.
Fifteen kidnappers, who had semtex strapped to their vests, were also reportedly killed at the Amenas field, deep in the Saharan south east of the country.A spokesman for the Masked Brigade, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the assault said Abou El Baraa, the leader of the kidnappers, was also killed.
The helicopter raid by the notoriously uncompromising Algerian authorities came just one day after the drama started.
As Al-Qaeda gunmen reinforced their position around a liquid gas installation partly run by BP, the military struck.
'Their 4x4 trucks were hit first, and then gunfire was turned on people in the complex,' said an Algerian diplomatic source. 'There are numerous casualties but figures cannot yet be confirmed.'
News organisations including Al Jazeera meanwhile suggested that some 34 hostages had died, along with 15 of their captors.
It is thought that many of the hostages died as the terrorists tried to use them as human shields
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