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Survivors describe horrors of Algeria desert siege

Published on Jan 19, 2013 6:06 AM
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A general view shows Algeria's national oil company Sonatrac in In Amenas, deep in Algerian Sahara near the Libyan border, on Jan 18, 2013 as Islamist hostage-takers at a nearby gas field in the area, more than 1,300 kms southeast of the capital Algiers, demanded a prisoner swap and an end to the French military campaign in Mali, a report said. -- PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - A Frenchman spent a day and two nights in terror, boarded up under his bed, certain he would be found and killed. An Algerian radio operator saw his French supervisor's corpse. A Northern Irish engineer saw four truckloads of other hostages blasted to pieces in an Algerian military strike.

The siege of a natural gas plant deep in the remote Sahara desert of Algeria is not yet over, but the stories of survivors so far contain tales of shattering trauma that experts say may never heal.

Hundreds of Algerians and scores of foreigners were trapped inside the gas complex captured by gunmen before dawn on Wednesday.

Although official accounts are contradictory and the fates of many are still unknown, Algerian officials say as many as 30 Algerian and foreign hostages may have been killed and potentially dozens of foreigners remain unaccounted for.

 
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