25 bodies found after Algeria bloodbath
By Amal Belalloufi ,AFPIN AMENAS, Algeria -- Security forces found the bodies of 25 foreigners Sunday as they combed a desert gas plant after a deadly standoff with Islamists, and witnesses said nine Japanese hostages had been executed.
January 21, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Citing security sources, Anis Rahmani of the private television channel Ennahar told AFP the army discovered “the bodies of 25 hostages” as they sought to secure the sprawling Sahara site at In Amenas.
“In all nine Japanese were killed,” one Algerian witness identified as Brahim said a day after special forces swooped on the gas plant run by Britain's BP, Norway's Statoil and Sonatrach of Algeria to end the siege that began Wednesday.
In Tokyo, a foreign ministry official said: “We are in a position not to comment on this kind of information at all. Please understand.”
Algerian Communications Minister Mohamed Said had earlier told a radio station: “I fear that it (the toll) may be revised upward,” after at least 23 foreigners and Algerians, mostly hostages, were killed over the four days.
Governments scrambled to track down missing citizens as details emerged of the deadly showdown after Islamists of the “Signatories in Blood” group raided the plant on Wednesday, demanding an end to French military intervention in Mali.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement that “it is now clear that this appalling terrorist incident in Algeria is now over.
“Tragically, we now know that three British nationals have been killed, and a further three are believed to be dead. And also a further British resident is also believed to be dead.”
Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp. had said 10 of its Japanese and seven of its foreign workers remained unaccounted for, before the reports became known of Japanese hostages being executed.
Kuala Lumpur said JGC had told it one of two Malaysians still unaccounted for is dead while the fate of the other was unknown.
Norway's Statoil, which operates the gas plant alongside Britain's BP and Sonatrach of Algeria, said the situation remains “unresolved” for five Statoil employees.
“We will, and we must, keep hoping for more positive news from Algeria. However, we must be prepared to deal with bad news in the next few days,” Statoil CEO Helge Lund said.
Thirty-two kidnappers were also killed in the 72-hour standoff, and the army freed “685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners,” Algeria's interior ministry said on Saturday.