Romanians Among Islamist Hostages in Algeria

At least one Romanian is among the hostages kidnapped and feared killed by Islamic militants in southern Algeria.Romania’s Foreign Minister confirmed on Thursday that at least one Romanian citizen was among the 41 foreigners taken hostage at a British-Norwegian gas plant in Algeria in retaliation to French military intervention in Mali. Many are feared dead.

The In Amenas gas plant is a British-Norwegian-Algerian joint venture in the desert close to the Libyan border.

“We have set up a crisis unit following information that an unknown number of Romanian citizens were taken hostage in Algeria. We are following events and will intervene accordingly,” Robert Cazanciuc, a Foreign Minister spokesman, said on Thursday.

Some international news agencies have meanwhile reported that at least 35 of the foreign hostages were killed after Algerian forces attacked the gas plant.

The killings are said to have occurred when the al Qaeda-linked militants tried to transport their captives to another part of the compound after coming under fire from soldiers.

The group, calling itself the “Battalion of Blood”, has demanded an end to the French military campaign in Mali, where hundreds of French paratroops and marines are launching a ground offensive against rebels a week after Paris began firing on militants from the air.

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