100 foreign hostages freed, 30 still missing at Algeria gas plant
ALGIERS, Algeria (Update 5) - Algerian special forces have freed about 100 foreign hostages from Islamist gunmen at a remote gas plant near the Libyan border, but some 30 are still missing, national media said on Friday.
"Around 100 foreigners out of 132 hostages seized by a terrorist group that attacked the Tiguentourine gas plant on Wednesday have been freed," APS reported, citing a security official.
The Algerian news agency had said earlier that "more than half" of the foreign hostages, as well as 573 Algerians had been freed in the rescue operation.
A US official said the drama involving Western hostages at the remote Algerian gas field is still "ongoing and sensitive." The top US priority is the safety of remaining hostages, a US official added.
Officials said that President Barack Obama was getting frequent updates on the situation after Algerian armed forces launched an operation which freed some hostages, including foreigners, but left around 60 Westerners missing.
"This situation is ongoing and sensitive and our top priority at this point is the security of the hostages," said a US official on condition of anonymity, cautioning that reporters should not expect real-time updates on the situation.
Other officials said the US government was in constant contact with the Algerian government, after the administration made clear late Thursday it was not aware of the bid to free the hostages from Islamic militants ahead of time.
"We are in close touch with our other international partners, as well as BP's security office in London," said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.
Washington has been restrained in commenting publicly on the situation in Algeria with hostages still in harm's way, but Obama spoke about developments with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday.
Cameron has since emerged as a vocal spokesman about the situation, warning that Britons were still at risk and that the Algerian army was still pursuing "terrorists" and possibly some remaining hostages at the site in a remote area of the Sahara. - Rappler.com