Hostages were 'human shields' in Algeria: Filipino survivor
Published on Jan 21, 2013 6:08 PM
MANILA (AFP) - Islamic militants used foreign hostages as human shields to stop Algerian troops aboard helicopters from strafing them with gunfire, a Filipino survivor of the four-day bloodbath recounted on Monday.
Mr Joseph Balmaceda, a father of four, said he saw one Japanese hostage draped with explosives, while he and others had their hands bound with cable ties, during the ordeal at the In Amenas gas plant in the Sahara Desert that ended on Saturday.
"Whenever government troops tried to use a helicopter to shoot at the enemy, we were used as human shields," a clearly stressed Mr Balmaceda told reporters shortly after arriving back in Manila. "We were told to raise our hands. The government forces could not shoot at them as long as we were held hostage."
Mr Balmaceda, nursing abrasions to his face and a loss of hearing, said he was the only survivor out of nine hostages who were aboard a van that exploded, apparently from C-4 explosives that the militants had rigged to the vehicle.
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