Statoil evacuating non-essential staff from Algeria: CEO

OSLO Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:44pm EST

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OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian energy firm Statoil is evacuating 40 non-essential staff from its Algerian installations after gunmen held hostage 12 of the firm's employees on Wednesday, Chief Executive Helge Lund told a news conference on Thursday.

Lund said three of the 12, all Algerian nationals, were now safe but the firm did not know the fate of the other nine employees, who are Norwegians.

Five others, all Norwegians who escaped on Wednesday, were on their way home, he said.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Balazs Koranyi)

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