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Algeria kidnap victims 'top priority': Japan

Published on Jan 17, 2013 1:14 PM

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan said on Thursday it was placing "top priority" on the lives of hostages, including a number of Japanese, snatched by Islamist gunmen who attacked a gas complex in Algeria.

At least three Japanese were among the 41 foreigners kidnapped by heavily armed men after a gunfight that left two people dead and six injured, Japanese press reported.

The gunmen said they had carried out the assault in response to a French military intervention in Mali, where Islamists have seized swathes of the country.

The group, who said they entered Algeria from northern Mali, told Mauritanian media their hostages included French, British and Japanese citizens, as well as seven Americans.

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