There has been a surge in the death toll in the attack by Al Qaeda-linked terrorists on a gas installation in southern Algeria, authorities say.
The Algerian government previously informed journalists that 32 hostages and 23 terrorists were killed in the siege by Algerian special ops forces intended to free nationals from ten different countries taken captive by the terrorists last week. But 25 have been discovered at the site of the four-day hostage standoff between Algerian forces and Al Qaeda-linked terrorists. According to Algerian state television, some of the hostages were executed by the terrorists.
The terrorist group attacked the In Amenas gas field installation, located deep in the Sahara Desert, allegedly in retaliation for Algeria’s agreement in allowing French fighter jets to pass through its air space to reach Mali. France is assisting the Malian government in its fight against radical Islamic terrorists who are trying to overthrow the government. A number of African nations have also joined in the battle as well.
The Masked Brigade, an armed group who took hundreds hostage at the In Amenas facility, said Friday that they would trade captives from the United States for the release of two terrorists jailed in the United States. A spokesman for the group named the two as Aafia Siddiqui, from Pakistan, and Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian referred to as the “blind sheikh.”
The Mauritanian ANI news agency reported that sources close to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, believed to be behind last Wednesday's raid, had proposed that France and Algeria negotiate “an end to the war being waged by France in Azawad”, northern Mali.
According to Algerian Minister of Communications Mohamed Said, the death toll – and the final count of personnel held hostage by the Al Qaeda-linked terrorists – was considerably higher than first reported. “I am afraid unfortunately to say that the death toll will go up,” Said was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. He added that a final death toll would be released in the coming hours.
At present, the government has said that 107 foreign nationals were held hostage by the terrorists, led by Belmokhtar, believed to be a former member of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In addition, 685 Algerian hostages, initially held, were freed prior to the siege by Algerian forces.