According to a statement issued by the Algerian Prime Minister on Monday, the group of Islamist militants at the center of the recent gas plant seige which led to the death of at least 38 workers included two Canadian nationals, as well as 30 other militants drawn from across North Africa.
A detailed statement from Algerian PM Abdelmalek Sellal explained how the group, who all wore military uniforms, included explosive experts and ‘inside man’ who had worked at the plant as a driver and “knew the facility’s layout by heart.” He described how militants rigged the plant with explosives, and executed many of their hostages in cold blood.
“You may have heard the last words of the terrorist chief,” he told reporters. “He gave the order for all the foreigners to be killed, so there was a mass execution, many hostages were killed by a bullet to the head.”
In total 38 of the plant’s workers were killed during the siege, including seven Japanese, six Filipino, three American, three British, two Romanian and one French worker. An Algerian security guard was also killed. Five foreign workers are still missing.
Mr Sellal’s statement provided the first full account of the crisis from start to finish. The siege began on Wednesday 16th with an attempted bus hijack, after which the militants entered the facility and took the workers hostage. Algerian troops quickly surrounded the facility. The first engagement between the two groups happened when a small group of militants tried to leave the facility with some of the hostages. The second and final engagement came on Saturday following intelligence reports which suggested that the militants were preparing to detonate the bombs which had been rigged all around the plant.
The Prime Minister also said that three of the hostage-takers had been captured in the operation, but he did not specify their nationality. The group included men from Egypt, Mali, Niger, Tunisia, Mauritania, as well as three Algerians and two Canadian men of Arab decent.
A Canadian offical commented to press on the announcement that his country’s citizens were allegedly involved in the attack.
“The announcement of the Algerian prime minister is fine, but we need verification. It could be a forged document. We need to confirm,” he said, on condition of anonymity