Saturday January 19, 2013
Two Malaysians in Algeria hostage crisis are safe
ALGIERS: Two Malaysians caught in the Algerian hostage crisis are safe, according to Wisma Putra.
K.Ravi's wife said that he had called her from Algeria and told her that he was fine.
Meanwhile, the Algerian special forces have freed nearly 650 hostages from gunmen at a remote gas plant near the Libyan border, but some 60 foreigners are still missing, national media reported.
“Nearly 650 hostages seized in the attack carried out on Wednesday by a terrorist group... among them 573 Algerians and more than half of the 132 foreign hostages, were freed” by Algerian special forces, the APS news agency reported.
The final number of foreigners who managed to escape from the kidnappers was unavailable, it said, as some were still either in hiding or being held hostage inside the industrial complex.
“(The army) is trying to reach a peaceful solution before neutralising the terrorist group that is holed up in the plant and freeing a group of hostages still being held there,” APS said.
The In Amenas plant, which is jointly operated by British oil giant BP, Norway's Statoil and Algeria's Sonatrach, has now been put out of service to avoid the risk of explosion.
The army rescue operation was launched on Thursday after the kidnappers seized the hostages at the site in what they said was retaliation for Algeria's support for French air strikes in Mali.
The kidnappers said 34 captives had died in the assault, but an Algerian security source described the toll as “fantasy,” while stating that 18 of more than 30 gunmen involved in the hostage-taking operation were killed.
International criticism is mounting of the Algerian government's handling of the attack on the plant amid reports that many foreign hostages may have been killed in the army raid, AFP reported.