Algeria Says 37 People Killed in Gas Plant Siege

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A satellite image shows the In Amenas gas complex in the Sahara where an Al-Qaeda-linked group attacked and killed 37 people.
DigitalGlobe via Getty Images

"I was the only one who survived because I was sandwiched between two spare tires. That is why I am still here and can talk to you," said the visibly distressed father of four.

"We're looking for Christians"

The alleged mastermind of the hostage-taking, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, said in a video posted online that it was carried out by 40 fighters from the Muslim world and "European countries".

His Al-Qaeda-linked group "Signatories in Blood" threatened to stage attacks on nations involved in the French-led operation to evict Islamists from Algeria's neighbor Mali, and said it had been open to negotiations.

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"But the Algerian army did not respond... preferring to stage an attack which led to the elimination of the hostages," it said in a message published by the Mauritanian news agency ANI.

Most hostages were freed on Thursday in the first Algerian rescue operation, which was initially viewed by foreign governments as hasty, before the focus of public condemnation turned on the jihadists.

The In Amenas plant is run by Britain's BP, Norway's Statoil and Sonatrach of Algeria.

An Algerian employee of BP who identified himself as Abdelkader said he was at a security post with colleagues on Wednesday morning when he saw a jeep with seven people inside smash through the barrier and screech to a halt.

One of the militants got out of the vehicle, demanded their mobile phones and ordered them not to move, before disabling the security cameras.

"He said: 'You are Algerians and Muslims, you have nothing to fear. We're looking for Christians, who kill our brothers in Mali and Afghanistan and plunder our resources'."

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