As it happened: Algeria hostage siege

Key points

  • Hours after Algerian forces moved in against hostage-takers at a desert gas facility in eastern Algeria, state news agency APS says the military operation has ended.
  • Islamist gunmen attacked a bus and a complex at In Amenas on Wednesday, taking foreign and local workers hostage.
  • It is now clear that some of the hostages were killed and wounded in the Algerian operation.
  • Although Algeria says some hostages were freed, UK PM David Cameron warns of "further bad news".
  • Algeria has identified the gunmen as militants who follow Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran Islamist with al-Qaeda links.
  • The gunmen have reportedly said their attack is a reaction to French military intervention in neighbouring Mali.

Live text

Reporting:

  • Patrick Jackson 
  • Bernadette McCague 
  • Paul Kirby 

Last updated 17 January 2013

BREAKING 1953 Breaking News

Algerian state news agency APS quotes official saying military operation is over.

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Welcome to our live coverage of the Algerian hostage siege. We will bring you updates as the situation develops with expert analysis from BBC correspondents and comment from readers.

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The hostages were seized on Wednesday morning after heavily armed militants attacked a bus leaving the plant but were repelled by their police escort.

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Algerian security forces who surrounded the site said there would be no negotiation with the militants.

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Algeria's prime minister informed UK Prime Minister David Cameron in the last hour that an operation was under way at the site, the UK Foreign Office says.

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Algerian forces acted today as the hostage-takers tried to move some of the hostages to a safer place, Mauritania's ANI news agency reports, quoting a militant spokesman.

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ANI reports that the hostage-takers' leader, Abu Al Baraa, was killed during the Algerian operation, according to France's Le Point magazine.

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Six foreign hostages and eight militants have been killed in the operation, Reuters reports, quoting a local source. It adds that 180 hostages escaped.

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Clea Caulcutt, BBC News, Paris reports

Algeria's Communication Ministry has told the BBC it cannot confirm deaths during the military operations at the site. An official statement is expected when the operations are complete.

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French President Francois Hollande is quoted on Le Figaro website as saying: "The situation there is confused and I'm in contact with the Algerian authorities... I won't give any precise number of our compatriots... the best thing is to say as little as possible."

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How were the hostages seized? What nationality are they? Who are the gunmen? What may have motivated them? Read our Q&A.