'Some dead' as Algeria hostage crisis ends in turmoil
ALGIERS (AFP) - Algerian special forces on Thursday launched a rescue operation on a desert gas complex, killing fleeing Islamists and an unknown number of their hostages, the communication minister said.
Communication Minister Mohamed Said said a number of kidnappers had been "neutralised" as they tried to flee, in the first official comment on the operation, but admitted that "some" hostages were killed or wounded.
He did not give any casualty figures from the operation which ended late on Thursday, according to Algeria's APS news agency, amid reports that scores of people had died.
Earlier, one of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists said "warplanes and ground units" had begun an operation "to take the complex by force," and threatened to "kill all the hostages if the Algerian forces succeed in entering the complex." He said 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers were killed in an army air strike, a claim that could not be verified.