(ANSAmed) - PARIS/ROME/TUNIS - More than half of the 132 foreign hostages at the In Amenas gas field have been freed, Algerian news agency APS cited security sources as saying on Friday. A total of 650 hostages have been freed, of which 573 are Algerian, APS reported. Army special forces are looking for a peaceful way to free more hostages still being held by gunmen at the gas field, which has been secured so the terrorists can't blow it up, according to APS.
French government authorities on Friday abstained from criticizing the way Algeria handled the hostage crisis at the In Amenas gas field yesterday.
"It was a complex situation, given the number of hostages.The Algerian authorities believed they had no choice but to raid the site," foreign ministry spokesperson Philippe Lalliot said, adding that the assault on the gas field by an al-Qaeda-linked brigade "confirms the presence of terrorist groups" in the Sahel and is "a challenge to the international community as a whole." "When facing terrorism, when fighting it together, I invite everyone to be cautious with their criticism, because those involved are Algerian," said Interior Minister Manuel Vals. "Of course some Westerners are involved, but Algerians are those who have lost tens of thousands of their own over the years." Also on Friday, the justice ministry announced it has opened an investigation into the hostage-taking showdown at In Amenas, as it does in all situations in which French citizens get in harm's way abroad. (ANSAmed).