25 Bodies Discovered at Algerian Siege Site
DUBAI, January 20 (RIA Novosti) – Twenty-five burnt bodies have been found inside a desert gas facility in eastern Algeria after a bloody raid ended a four-day hostage standoff, private Algerian television station Ennahar said on Sunday.
The bodies might belong to the hostages executed by the militants, the report said adding that the operation to clear the site is expected to last 48 hours.
The operation involves de-mining teams which go through the gas facility searching for explosives left by the Islamic militants who took dozens of foreign hostages.
Algerian forces stormed the natural gas facility in the Sahara desert on Saturday after nearly a four-day standoff between Algerian security forces and an al-Qaeda-backed Islamist group.
The final assault on Saturday left 23 hostages and 32 militants killed at the gas plant in eastern Algeria near Libya. A total of 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners were freed by the special forces, AFP reported.
Local media said citing released Algerian hostages that nine Japanese nationals were killed by the terrorists.
Earlier on Sunday, Algerian Communications Minister Mohamed said he feared that the number of people killed could be "revised upward."
The attack ended a risky military rescue operation launched after the Islamist group, 'Signatories in Blood', took hundreds of hostages at the plant, including nationals from the Unites States, Norway and Britain.
Some 30 Algerians and 15 foreigners were reported to have escaped from the gas facility before the Algerian military surrounded and raided the site.
The plant was mined with explosives and set to blow up, the Algerian state oil company Sonatrach said in a statement.
The militant group was demanding an end to the French military intervention in Mali, where troops arrived last week to suppress a growing Islamist insurgency in the North African country.
Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, has condemned "the appalling acts carried out by terrorists," saying he "deeply regrets the tragic outcome for innocent hostages including European citizens."
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