ALGIERS Feb 24 Algeria's Tiguentourine gas
plant resumed some production on Sunday, more than a month after
dozens of foreign workers were killed in an Islamist attack
there, the head of the state energy firm Sonatrach told state
The gas facility operated by BP in partnership with
Norway's Statoil and Sonatrach had been closed since
gunmen attacked it on Jan. 15 and seized hundreds of hostages
before the army stormed in four days later.
"It is a partial resuming of production ... we will get 3
billion cubic metres per year," Sonatrach chief executive
Abdelhamid Zerguine was quoted as saying.
The plant produces about 9 billion cubic metres per year of
gas, about 11.5 percent of the country's annual total.
Algeria is a top energy supplier of gas to Europe, and a key
U.S. ally in its fight against al Qaeda in the Sahel region of
The attack on the plant was led by rebels loyal to senior al
Qaeda member Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Some 37 foreign hostages, and
29 rebels were killed during the assault on the plant 50 km from
the town of In Amenas, near the Libyan border.
When journalists visited the site two weeks after the
attack, the marks of hundreds of bullets and several grenade
blasts scarred the concrete walls of some of the single-storey
villas where foreign employees lived, and where some had died.
Local workers in anti-contamination suits were still
labouring on the clean-up operation.
A conflict in the 1990s between security forces and Islamist
insurgents, which killed an estimated 200,000 people, still
casts a shadow over Algeria. The fighting started after the
military-backed government annulled an election which hardline
Islamists were poised to win.
Violence has sharply diminished but a hardcore of militants
affiliated to al Qaeda continue to strike in remote areas in the
north of the country.
Twelve militants have been killed by government forces
during the past 48 hours in the northern regions of Boumerdes
and Chlef, a statement released by the Ministry of Defence said.
Some 160 insurgents have been killed in Algeria since June
2012, including the 29 who launched the attack against the gas
plant, a security source who asked not to be named told Reuters.