Islamist Militants Seize Hostages at Algerian Gas Field

Posted January 16th, 2013 at 9:40 am (UTC-5)
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Islamist militants with reported links to al-Qaida have attacked a natural gas production facility operated by the British oil company BP in southern Algeria, kidnapping at least seven foreigners, including Japanese, British and Norwegian nationals.

Algeria's state-run news agency said one person was killed and seven others wounded in Wednesday's attack on the field at In Amenas.

The foreigners were taken from the facility in the morning. Algerian forces later surrounded the kidnappers and negotiations for the release of the hostages are ongoing.

The French news agency reported that one of the attackers contacted by telephone said the group were al-Qaida loyalists who had crossed the border from northern Mali.

BP operates the facility along with the Norwegian company Statoil and the Algerian state oil company. A Japanese company provides services.

The attack in Algeria comes as French troops are attempting to take back northern Mali from Islamist militants. Groups that have seized control of northern Mali include some with close ties to al-Qaida and that already hold seven French nationals and four Algerian diplomats.

Algeria had long warned against military intervention against the rebels in northern Mali, fearing the violence could spill over its own long and porous border.