Kidnappers repel Algerian army bid to enter gas plant - ANI

NOUAKCHOTT Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:05pm EST

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NOUAKCHOTT Jan 16 (Reuters) - Heavily armed Islamic militants said they had repelled an attempt by Algeria's army to enter a gas facility where they claim to be holding up to 41 foreigners, Mauritania's ANI news agency said on Wednesday.

Citing a source in the al Qaeda-affiliated group that has claimed responsibility for the dawn raid, ANI said the gunmen had exchanged fire with the Algerian soldiers, who were forced to retreat.

The source said there were dozens of hostage-takers, armed with both light and heavy weapons including mortars and anti-aircraft missiles.

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