NOUAKCHOTT Jan 17 Thirty-four hostages and 15
of their al Qaeda-linked kidnappers were killed on Thursday in
an air strike by the Algerian armed forces, Mauritania's ANI
news agency reported, citing one of the kidnappers holding
captives at a desert gas field.
The news agency, which has close contact with the group
which has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping, said
the army's attack came as kidnappers were trying to move their
hostages in vehicles to a new location.
A local resident confirmed to Reuters that many people were
killed after the Algerian military opened fire on the hostage
The gunmen, who seized dozens of foreigners and scores of
Algerians at the In Amenas gas plant deep in the Sahara desert,
have demanded an end to a French military operation against al
Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in neighbouring Mali.
ANI said that the spokesman for the kidnappers, speaking by
telephone from inside the facility, said their leader Abu al
Baraa had been killed in the attack.
The hostage-taker warned that they would kill the rest of
their captives if the Algerian army approached, ANI reported.