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Originally published on Sun January 20, 2013 11:15 am
More bodies have been reported found at the gas plant in Algeria where a four-day standoff with Islamist militants came to a bloody end on Saturday. An Algerian security official tells the AP that the state of the bodies makes it difficult to tell whether the dead are hostages or attackers.
Originally published on Sat January 19, 2013 4:51 pm
British Defense Minister Philip Hammond (left) and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hold a joint press conference on the Algerian hostage crisis Saturday in London.
Credit Leon Neal / AFP/Getty Images
The four-day standoff in the Algerian desert came to a bloody end Saturday morning when Algerian forces stormed the gas plant where Islamist militants were holding foreign hostages.
Seven hostages were killed in the assault, as were 11 militants, Algeria's state media reported. In total, 32 militants and 23 other people died in the conflict, the Algerian interior ministry said in a statement.
This image from video provided by the SITE Intel Group made available Thursday Jan. 17, 2013, purports to show militant militia leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar. News reports say he may have been responsible for the Western hostages' being taken at a gas plant in Algeria.
Credit SITE Intel Group / AP
Mokhtar Belmokhtar has had a few skirmishes in his day.
The former Algerian soldier went to Afghanistan to join Islamist fighters battling the Soviets in the 1980s. He returned home and rose to prominence among the Islamist rebels who waged a nasty war with the Algerian government in the 1990s.
For the past decade, he's remained an elusive figure. He's believed to have spent most of his time in Algeria's Sahara and has been regarded as one of the top figures in al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.