Islamists Seize Foreign Hostages at Algeria Gas Field

From The New York Times

By Scott Sayare and Adam Nossiter

Islamist militants seized a foreign-operated gas field in Algeria early Wednesday and took at least 20 foreign hostages, including Americans, according to an Algerian government official and the country’s state-run news agency, in what the attackers called a retaliation for the French-led military intervention in neighboring Mali.

The Algerian agency said at least at least two people had been killed in the gas-field seizure, including one British national, and that the hostages included American, British, French, Norwegian and Japanese citizens.

Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman, told reporters in Washington, “The best information that we have at this time is that U.S. citizens are among the hostages.”

The exact number of people being held was still far from certain. A top Algerian government official said that security services had now “encircled the base” so that “no one can leave.” But he added that “the situation is confused for the moment. We don’t have precise figures for now. Maybe 30” hostages in all.

As for the attackers, he said, “There were 20 of them, in three vehicles, heavily armed. They came in vehicles that were unmarked, that’s how they slipped through.”

Other news agencies said as many as 41 hostages were seized.

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