Algerian prime minister offers more details of siege, says 38 hostages died

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Associated Press

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 2:33 PM

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria's prime minister is providing more details about the Islamist militants who attacked a natural gas plant in the Sahara last week.

According to the prime minister, the four-day crisis ended with 38 hostages and 29 of the militants dead. He says three of the attackers were captured, and five foreign workers remain unaccounted for.

The U.S. State Department confirms that three Americans were killed.

According to the Algerian leader, the militants included two Canadians -- and a team of explosives experts who had memorized the layout of the complex. He says they were prepared to blow it up.

Today's account is the first detailed narrative of the four-day standoff from the Algerian government. The siege began with an attempted bus hijacking on Wednesday of last week. The prime minister indicated that the operation was not, in fact, an immediate reaction to France's recent military intervention against Islamists in Mali -- since the captured militants said it took months of planning.

The final death toll is still unclear, since accounts from other governments appear to indicate that more than five workers are still missing.

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180-v-34-(Jon Belmont, AP correspondent)--We're learning of more Americans who died in the hostage standoff at a natural gas complex in Algeria. AP correspondent Jon Belmont reports. (21 Jan 2013)

<<CUT *180 (01/21/13)>> 00:34

GRAPHICSBANK: Algeria 3d waving country flag, graphic element (21 Jan 2013)

APPHOTO REB115: Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal answers questions during a press conference held in Algiers, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. The Islamist militants who attacked a natural gas plant in the Sahara wore Algerian army uniforms, memorized the layout of the vast complex and included two Canadians and a team of explosives experts ready to blow the place sky-high, Algeria's prime minister said Monday. (AP Photo/Sidali Djarboub) (21 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO REB115 (01/21/13)>>

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