The Algerian government confirmed Monday that at two Canadians were among those involved in a hostage taking at a foreign-owned gas plant in southeast Algeria last week.
According to a report from CBC News, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal’s confirmation that Canadians were involved did not include an update on whether those involved were killed during an attempted intervention by the Algerian army, or whether they had been captured.
“A Canadian was among the militants. He was co-ordinating the attack,” Sellal said during a news conference Monday, according to a report from Reuters.
The confirmation comes after reports on the television station Ennahar that two Canadians were part of the heavily-armed Islamist militant group that stormed the compound.
According to Agence France-Presse, the report cited unnamed security sources who said: “Two bodies of Canadian citizens were recovered among the terrorists in Ain Amenas.”
For its part, Foreign Affairs has said that it is aware of the report and is looking for more information to verify it.
“We are pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information and are in close contact with Algerian authorities,” a Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman told CBC News on Monday morning.
The report comes after an earlier report from The Telegraph that quoted an Algerian who had escaped the situation as saying that at least two of the terrorists who stormed the gas-plant camp spoke English perfectly. The Telegraph said that the report raised suspicion that the terrorists could have ties to Western groups.
The total number of dead after the four-day standoff remains unclear, with up to 80 people killed, according to a report from The Telegraph. But, on Monday, Prime Minister Sellal said the confirmed number of dead hostages sat at 37, with seven still missing.
The foreign workers killed include citizens from the Philippines, Britain, Romania, the U.S. and France.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who is linked to a terrorist group that calls itself “Those Who Sign In Blood,” has claimed responsibility for the attack and said, in a video, that they were taking action for Western military involvement in Mali. French troops have entered Mali after Islamist militants took over the northern half of the country and were making an advance south, towards the capital city of Bamako.
The Ain Amenas plant is run by BP, Norwegian company Statoil and Algeria’s state-owned oil company.
Monday, January 21, 2013