Some Islamist hostage-takers were still holed up at a remote gas field in Algeria on Friday, a security source said, adding that their claim of dozens of people killed in an army rescue bid was "fantasy."
"There is still a group holed up" at the In Amenas gas production complex in the
southeastern desert, the source told AFP by telephone, adding that it was "difficult to discuss an ongoing operation."
The source condemned the Mauritanian news agency ANI, to which the Islamists gave their account of events on Thursday, claiming 34 captives and 14 hostage-takers had been killed.
"The terrorists made contact with ANI to give them this exclusive report, from which we got this fantasy toll," the source said.
Communications Minister Mohamed Said had said late on Thursday that the assault launched by Algerian special forces left "some" of the hostages dead and wounded, but freed a "large number".
A lack of concrete information over what Britain called an ongoing "terrorist incident" at the BP-operated In Amenas field has frayed nerves in Tokyo and other world capitals eager for news of the fate of dozens of hostages still unaccounted for.