Inside job, 2 Canadian militants in Algeria siege
BY AOMAR OUALI & KARIM KEBIR Associated Press
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
1/22/13 at 6:20 AM
The hostage-taking at a remote Algerian gas plant was carried out by 30 militants from across the northern swath of Africa and two from Canada, authorities said. The militants, who wore military uniforms and knew the layout, included explosives experts who rigged it with bombs and a leader whose final order was to kill all the captives.
The operation also had help with inside knowledge - a former driver at the plant, Algeria's prime minister said Monday.
In all, 38 workers and 29 militants died, the Algerian prime minister said Monday, offering the government's first detailed account of four days of chaos that ended with a bloody military raid he defended as the only way possible to end the standoff. Five foreigners are still missing.
"You may have heard the last words of the terrorist chief," Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told reporters.
"He gave the order for all the foreigners to be killed, so there was a mass execution, many hostages were killed by a bullet to the head."
Monday's account offered the first Algerian government narrative of the standoff, from the moment of the attempted bus hijacking on Wednesday to the moment when the attackers prepared Saturday to detonate bombs across the sprawling complex. That's when Algerian special forces moved in for the second and final time.
All but one of the dead victims - an Algerian security guard - were foreigners. The dead hostages included seven Japanese workers, six Filipinos, three energy workers each from the U.S. and Britain, two from Romania and one worker from France.
The prime minister said three attackers were captured but did not specify their nationalities or their conditions or say where they were being held.
He said the Islamists included a former driver at the complex from Niger, and the militants "knew the facility's layout by heart."
The vast complex is deep in the Sahara, 800 miles south of Algiers, with a network of roads and walkways for the hundreds of workers who keep it running.
The attackers wore military uniforms, according to state television, bolstering similar accounts by former hostages that the attackers didn't just shoot their way in.
In addition to the Canadians, the Algerian prime minister said, the militant cell included men from Egypt, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia, as well as three Algerians. Officials in Canada could not confirm that any of the attackers were from there.
An earlier report from an Algerian security official that as many as 80 people had died in the assault - including hostages and attackers - appears to have overstated the toll, but the official had cautioned that many bodies discovered during a sweep of the facility were badly disfigured, making it difficult to reach a total.
Original Print Headline: 2 Canadians, plant insider helped in Algeria attack
3 Americans die in attack, 7 survive
WASHINGTON (AP) - Three U.S. citizens were killed in last week's hostage standoff at a natural gas complex in Algeria, while seven Americans made it out safely, Obama administration officials said Monday.
The State Department confirmed that gas workers Victor Lynn Lovelady and Gordon Lee Rowan were killed at the Ain Amenas field in the Sahara. U.S. officials identified Texas resident Frederick Buttaccio as the first death last week.
Lovelady, 57, worked at Ain Amenas as a project manager for the Houston-based energy firm ENGlobal Corp., said CEO William A. Coskey. Rowan's employer wasn't immediately known. Their hometowns were not released.
Five Americans had been taken out of the country before Saturday's final assault by Algerian forces against the militants.
A U.S. official said the remaining two Americans survived the four-day crisis at an insecure oil rig at the facility. They were flown out to London on Saturday.
The State Department's Victoria Nuland confirmed that seven Americans made it out safely, but said she couldn't provide further details because of privacy considerations.
Algerian firemen carry a coffin containing the body of a victim of the gas facility hostage situation from the morgue in Ain Amenas, Algeria, on Monday. ANIS BELGHOUL / Associated Press