MOSCOW, January 19 (RIA Novosti) – Algerian forces brought an end to the hostage crisis after nearly a four-days standoff between Algerian security forces and an al-Qaeda-backed Islamist group, official said on Saturday.
The final assault left 23 hostages and 32 militants killed on Saturday at a gas plant in eastern Algeria near Libya, Reuters reported citing the Algerian Interior Ministry. The special forces managed to free "685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners," AFP reported.
"Algerian authorities have confirmed to us that the military phase of the operation to resolve this crisis has concluded," the British Foreign Office said, according to CNN.
The attack has ended a risky military rescue operation launched after the Islamist group, ‘Signatories in Blood’, took hundreds of hostages at the plant, including nationals from the Unites States, Norway and Britain. There is still no reliable information on the number of foreigners among the hostages and their nationality.
Some 30 Algerians and 15 foreigners were reported to have escaped from the gas facility before the Algerian military surrounded and raided the site.
The plant was mined with explosives and set to blow up, the Algerian state oil company Sonatrach said in a statement.
The militant group was demanding an end to the French military intervention in Mali, where troops arrived last week to suppress a growing Islamist insurgency in the North African country.