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Algeria accuses Canadian, puts hostage toll at 38

Published on Jan 22, 2013 6:17 AM
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal speaks during a press conference in Algiers on Januray 21, 2012, where he warned other nations to prepare for a higher body count after a four-day siege of a gas plant by Islamist militants ended in a bloodbath, amid fears as many as 50 hostages may have died. -- PHOTO: AFP

ALGIERS (REUTERS) - Algeria said on Monday it had confirmed the deaths of at least 38 workers, all but one foreign, at the Sahara gas plant its forces stormed two days ago and said the Islamist gunmen had been led by a man with Canadian citizenship.

Named only as Chedad, a surname found among Arabs in North Africa, the Canadian was among 29 assailants from a local al-Qaeda group killed during the four-day siege, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said. Another three were detained.

Among hostages confirmed dead by their own governments were three Americans, seven Japanese, six Filipinos and three Britons; others from Britain, Norway and elsewhere were listed as unaccounted for. Mr Sellal said 37 foreigners died, of whom seven were unidentified, and a further five were missing.

Though nearly 700 Algerians and 100 other foreigners escaped or were rescued, the apparent ease with which a group could race over the nearby border from lawless Libya and seize a heavily defended and economically strategic facility has raised doubts for investors on the security of Algeria's vital energy sector.

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