Islamist gunmen killed seven foreign hostages in Algeria on Saturday before being gunned down by special forces in a final assault on a remote desert gas complex, state television said.
The 11 heavily armed men from a group known as ‘Signatories in Blood’ had been holed up at the In Amenas complex since they took hundreds of workers hostage in a dawn attack on Wednesday.
Most of the hostages, including about 100 foreigners, had been freed after the Algerian forces launched a bloody rescue operation on Thursday, which was widely condemned as hasty, but some 30 remained unaccounted for.
In Saturday’s final assault, “the Algerian army took out 11 terrorists, and the terrorist group killed seven foreign hostages,” state TV said. It did not give the nationalities of those who died.
A security official who spoke to AFP as army helicopters overflew the gas plant gave the same toll for both the captors and hostages killed, adding it was believed “they were killed in retaliation”.
The gunmen, cited by Mauritania’s ANI news agency, had said earlier they were still holding “seven foreign hostages”.
On Friday, they had given a breakdown of three Belgians, two Americans, one Japanese and a Briton still captive, although Brussels said there was no indication any of its nationals were being held.
An Algerian security official had put the remaining number of foreign hostages at 10.