Two Romanians Die in Algeria Hostage Crisis

Bucharest says that two Romanians have died but another three have been released after being taken hostage by Islamist militants in Algeria.The Romanians were among more than 80 who are reported to have died as a result of the hostage crisis at a British-Norwegian gas plant in Algeria, where Islamists took prisoners in a protest against French military intervention in neighbouring Mali.

The second man died of his wounds on Sunday, a day after being rescued, Prime Minister Victor Ponta told a press conference.

Ponta said however that despite this “tragic event”, Romania would “remain committed alongside its partners to the global fight against terrorism”.

The three freed Romanians who survived are to be repatriated on a military plane on Monday.

Officials in Bucharest said they were unsure about the number of Romanians taken hostage, accusing the Algerian authorities of poor communication.

“We are disappointed about the way in which the Algerian army kept us informed about the conditions in which Romanian nationals were held during the hostage crisis,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Robert Cazanciuc.

A Romanian defence ministry committee is expected to release a report on Monday about the country’s possible involvement in supporting the French military operation in Mali.

Al-Qaida linked militants took dozens of foreign nationals hostage last Wednesday at the gas plant in the southern Algerian desert.

The hostage-takers, calling themselves the Battalion of Blood, were demanding an end to Paris’s military intervention in Mali which has seen air strikes followed by a ground offensive involving hundreds of French troops.

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