Sky News reports that a large explosion has been heard emanating from the BP plant where dozens of foreign workers including 7 Americans were taken by Islamic militants on Wednesday, following a botched air raid that may have resulted in the deaths of up to 35 hostages. Algerian forces are advancing on the plant from all directions.
It is unclear how many Algerians were taken hostage, though over 300 native workers were released Wednesday. The Algerian press agency APS claims that over 600 Algerian workers have been rescued by security forces on Thursday during the ongoing operations.
The Guardian reports that the initial estimate of 35 dead may be 'high' and notes that many civilians escaped during fighting.
Irishman Stephen McFaul has been identified as one of the 4 foreign hostages rescued by Algerian forces.
Reports remain murky and all information has not yet been verified. Return for updates on the situation as it develops.