Algerian Special Forces Storm Gas Plant in 'Final Assault'

1:55 PM, Jan 19, 2013   |    comments
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AIN AMENAS, Algeria (AP) - Algeria's state news agency says the country's special forces stormed a natural gas complex in the middle of the Sahara desert today in a "final assault" aimed at ending a four-day-old hostage crisis.

The report quotes a security source saying 11 militants and seven hostages were killed. There's no word whether any hostages or militants remained alive. The news agency reports the army was forced to intervene after a fire broke out in the plant.

Algeria's response to the crisis was typical of the country's history in confronting terrorists - military action over negotiation - and caused an international outcry from countries worried about their citizens.

The latest deaths bring the official Algerian tally of dead to 19 hostages and 29 militants, although reports on the number of dead, injured and freed have been contradictory throughout the crisis.

In their final communications, the militants said they were holding seven hostages: three Belgian, two Americans, a Japanese and a Briton. They had threatened to kill them if the Algerian army attacked.

Algerian authorities estimated that about 30 militants occupied the site Wednesday and with 18 already reported dead, it appears the hostage crisis is finally over.

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