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Algeria hostage crisis - a timeline

posted 18 Jan 2013, 13:59 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 18 Jan 2013, 13:59 ]

Next Media - This is a timeline of events that have occurred since militants stormed the In Amena gas plant in Algeria on Wednesday taking scores of foreign and Algerian workers hostage.

Wednesday Jan 16, 4am GMT: The crisis begins when foreign and Algerian workers from the plant were kidnapped on their way to the airport. The Sahara Desert gas plant is a joint venture between British Petroleum, Norway’s Statoil and Algeria’s Sonatrach.

Jan 16, 4:30am GMT: The militants storm the main gas facility taking hundreds of workers hostage. One hostage told France 24 the hostages were forced to wear explosive belts. Another hostage who has since escaped said they were bound, gagged, and made to wear explosives around their necks.

Jan 16, morning, GMT: The standoff begins an hour later as the Algerian militarysurround the facility.

Thursday Jan 17: To the surprise of foreign governments, Algerian forces lead an assault on the gas plant attempting to free the hostages. One hostage who escaped said he saw four jeeps full of hostages blown up by Algerian forces. Reports differ as to the number of hostages and captors killed in the rescue attempt. Algerian state news reported that as many as 650 hostages had been rescued.

Friday Jan 18: A local Algerian source said about 60 foreigners are still being held hostage or presumed to be hiding in the compound. Hostages still unaccounted for includ 10 Japanese, eight Norwegians, and an unknown number of Britons and Americans.

A militant group calling itself the “Battalion of Blood” has claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack was reportedly in retaliation for Algeria’s support of the French operation against al-Qaeda-linked groups in neighboring Mali.

In the latest report, ANI news agency says that the kidnappers have offered to swap American hostages for two Islamic militants jailed in the US - Aafia Siddiqui and Omar Abdel-Rahman, known as the “The Blind Sheikh”.

SOURCE: Reuters, Daily Mail