Algerian military forces today attacked the BP facility near Ain Amenas where Islamic militants took dozens of foreign workers hostage on Wednesday, in what appears to have been a disastrous miscalculation and massive bloodbath.
The British Foreign Office confirmed that Algerian forces are engaged in an “ongoing operation” to liberate the hostages, but what appears to have happened is the death of most of the foreign workers and many of the militants.
The BBC received reports from militants claiming that 34 foreign hostages and 14 militants were killed. Seven are apparently still being held hostage, possibly Americans. Four of the hostages have been freed.
The Algerian Interior Minister, Daho Ould Kablia said the kidnappers were Algerians operating under the command of Mokhtar Belmohktar, a senior commander of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a Mali-based paramilitary organization which has carried out many terrorist attacks.
It is unclear whether militants carried through their threat to detonate explosives at the facility. If so, then it seems clear that at least some portion of the complex remains intact.