Dark uncertainty over more than 50 Algerian gas field hostages

Algeria said Friday morning that the hostage operation was still ongoing at the Amenas gas field and the site was not secure. There is anger in Western capitals over the failure of the hostages’ governments – British, Norwegian, Japanese, American and French – to release casualty figures of the foreigners seized Wednesday morning by North African al Qaeda (AQIM) raiders. They demanded that France end its military intervention in Mali.  One local source refers to 30 deaths. Still missing are 7 Americans, 10 British, 17 Japanese and 14 Norwegians. They could be dead, injured or hiding. This is more than the total of 41 foreign nationals originally reported and adds confusion to the hostage situation. The Algerians now say Thursday night their military operation ended at the accommodation block where a number of terrorists were "neutralized" but there are still terrorists in other parts of the site and soldiers are hunting them down.  BP which operated the field is withdrawing foreign staff from other energy fields in Algeria.

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