First Published: 2013-01-21

 

Algeria says 11 Tunisians among 32 Islamist hostage-takers

 

Sellal says eleven of 32 Islamist gunmen who attacked desert gas complex in southeastern Algeria seizing hundreds of hostages were Tunisian.

 

Middle East Online

Final death toll from siege: 37 foreigners, one Algerian

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.

"Thirty-seven foreigners of eight different nationalities," were killed during the four-day siege, Sellal told news conference, without specifying their nationalities.

One Algerian also lost his life, bringing the giving an overall toll of 38, while five foreign foreigners were still missing, he added.

Sellal 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 250 kilometres (150 miles) south of Tunisia, close to the Libyan border, were Canadian, Egyptian, Malian, Nigerian and Mauritanian.

During the army's final assault on the plant, Sellal said the remaining gunmen executed several hostages by shooting them in the head.

The interior ministry had on Saturday given a preliminary toll of 23 foreign and Algerian hostages killed during the siege, which ended on Saturday with Algerian forces storming the remaining part of the complex still in militant hands.

The ministry said 685 Algerian and 107 foreign hostages were freed.

Sellal also said that the 32 militants who overran the In Amenas gas facility, taking hundreds of workers hostage, came from northern Mali. Twenty-nine of them were killed and three arrested.

He said the group's leader was Mohamed el-Amine Bencheneb, an Algerian militant known to the country's security services, and that he was killed during the army's assault.

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 Islamist movement, which was banned under the regime of former president 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.

 

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