Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hostages and some Americans escape from terrorists in Algeria, while Algerian military attacks gas complex; 35 hostages killed

These Americans weren't going to be a bump in the road.
(Fox News) At least 20 foreign hostages and some Americans escaped Thursday from an Al Qaeda-linked group who had taken over an Algerian natural gas complex in the Sahara desert, according to Algerian and US officials.

But the militant group said 35 hostages and 15 of their members have been killed after Algerian helicopters attacked the facility in a strafing run, the Associated Press reports. The claim could not be independently verified.

The group claiming responsibility -- called Katibat Moulathamine or the Masked Brigade -- told a Mauritanian news outlet that its leader was among the dead in the attack, which occurred when the kidnappers tried to leave the complex. They say seven hostages are still alive in Algeria, including Americans and citizens of the UK, Belgium and Japan.

A US military source tells Fox News that the attack did happen, but could not provide further details. Some of the Americans believed to have escaped have called home to their families, U.S. official sources say. An Algerian security official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity said Americans were among the 20 hostages that escaped.

The U.S. State Department is working to account for all of the Americans reported missing.