Algerian authorities have confirmed that 23 hostages were killed during Special Forces action to free them at the In Aménas plant near the border with Libya.
Norway’s Foreign Minister confirmed, Saturday evening, that the hostage situation at the In Aménas plant was brought to a close in an attack by Algerian Special Forces. The assault left 23 hostages dead.
Algerian Special Forces believed that the hostage-takers were in the process of committing collective suicide when they ordered their soldiers to strike.
The kidnappers executing seven of the hostages before Special Forces could take action triggered the raid, reported Algerian newspaper el Watan. 32 of the kidnappers were also killed in the operation.
Algerian soldiers also found machine pistols, missiles, rockets and grenades attached to suicide belts.
Authorities did not release the nationalities of those killed in the raid. All that was known was information released earlier, which stated that at least one Briton, one Norwegian and one Algerian had been killed in the raid.
Norwegian energy company Statoil, British BP, and the Algerian state energy company Sonatrach joint-own the plant. Workers of many nationalities, including Norwegian, British, Japanese and French, were known to be amongst those held by the militants.
Hostage numbers held appear to have been far higher than at first realised: the Algerian Interior Ministry stated that 685 Algerians and 107 foreign workers had been freed.
The highest estimate of hostage numbers was previously 41, which was the number the kidnappers gave themselves.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told reporters at a press conference, Saturday evening, “The kidnappers come from a range of different countries, mainly but not exclusively from the region. We don’t have a full list of all the nationalities beyond that, or at least not one we can share at this time.”
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told the assembled journalists that there was likely to be some bad news. Five Norwegians are currently unaccounted for.
“Of the 13 Norwegians who were involved, eight have come away from the nightmare alive. We must not lose hope for the five who are still missing, but we must steel ourselves for the possibility that Norwegian lives may also have been lost,” he said, adding that efforts to help them are continuing unabated.