Algeria: 7 hostages, 11 militants dead after raid
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Jan 19, 8:56 AM (ET)

By PAUL SCHEMM and ANIS BELGHOUL

(AP)
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AIN AMENAS, Algeria (AP) - Algeria's four-day hostage standoff came to a bloody end Saturday when the country's special forces stormed the remote desert gas plant and killed 11 militants, but not before they in turn executed seven hostages, the state news agency reported.

The report, quoting a security source, didn't specify if any hostages or militants remained alive or give the nationalities of the dead.

Algerian authorities estimated that around 30 militants occupied the Ain Amenas on Wednesday and with 18 already reported dead, it appears the hostage crisis involving hundreds of plant workers is finally over.

There was no official count of how many hostages were still being held by the final group of militants holed up in the gas refinery on Saturday, but the militants themselves had reported they were still holding three Belgian, two Americans, a Japanese and a Briton.

The plant is jointly run by BP, Norway's Statoil and Algeria's state-owned oil company.

An international outcry mounted over the Algerians' handling of the crisis. Experts noted that this is how they have always dealt with terrorists, refusing to negotiate.

The standoff has put the spotlight on militancy plaguing the region and al-Qaida-linked groups roaming remote areas from Mali to Libya, threatening vital infrastructure and energy interests.

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Paul Schemm reported from Rabat, Morocco.






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