22 Jan 2013

Algeria says 37 foreigners died in siege

7:11 pm on 22 January 2013

The Algerian prime minister has confirmed that at least 37 foreign hostages from eight countries were killed during the siege by Islamist militants at a remote gas plant.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said seven hostages are missing following the siege which Algerian forces ended by storming the plant, Reuters reports.

Mr Sellal also said that 29 Islamists had been killed in the siege, and three had been captured alive.

The prime minister said a Canadian was among the militants and was coordinating the attack, adding that the raiders had threatened to blow up the gas installation. The Canadian's name was given only as Chedad.

In Ottawa, Canada's foreign affairs department said it was seeking information, but referred to the possible involvement of only one Canadian.

American, British, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Filipino and Romanian workers are dead or missing after the attack, for which veteran Islamist fighter Mokhtar Belmokhtar has claimed responsibility on behalf of al Qaeda.

The jihadists had planned the attack two months ago in neighbouring Mali, where French forces began fighting Islamists earlier in January, Mr Sellal said.