Algeria: unconfirmed fatalities, 30 hostages still missing

One hundred freed. 'USA will never negotiate with terrorists'

18 January, 21:22

Algerian army's tanks at In Amenas gas field Algerian army's tanks at In Amenas gas field

(ANSAmed) - ALGIERS - USA will never negotiate with terrorists, State department's spokeperson Victoria Nuland said. She was referring to the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists at the In Amenas gas Fiel in Algeria and their call on France to negotiate an end to the war in Mali, and on the US to trade two of its prisoners for some of their American hostages. The two prisoners are Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, 74, aka The Blind Sheikh, who is from militant Islamic group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya and is currently serving a life sentence for inspiring the 1993 World Trade Center bombings; and Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, aka Lady al-Qaeda, who is serving 86 years for assaulting her US interrogators in Afghanistan.

''The terrorists have no place to hide in Algeria, North Africa or anywhere else,'' said US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

A spokesman for the terrorists, which hail from the Mulathameen (The Masked Ones) brigade, also warned Algerians to ''stay away from the installations of foreign companies as we will strike again,'' Mauritanian news agency ANI reported.

The number of hostages and fatalities  after the Algerian military operations in the gas field was still unconfirmed on Friday night, with Algerian security sources stating that 12 hostages and 18 terrorists had been killed. Official APS Algerian news agency cited security forces as saying that 600-700 hostages had been freed, of which about 100 foreigners out of 132. Escaped Irish hostage, Stephen McFaul, told reporters he was made to wear a Semtex explosive belt and to act as a human shield.

''The terrorists have no place to hide in Algeria, North Africa or anywhere else,'' said US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Japan expressed ''deep concern'' over the bloody rescue attempt by Algerian special forces. France abstained from criticizing the operation, but opened an investigation into the hostage-taking since French citizens were affected.

The In Amenas field has been secured so terrorists can't blow it up, French officials said earlier on Friday. (ANSAmed).

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