Algeria reports nearly 100 workers free, fate of others unclear

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Amenas natural gas field, Algeria

Amenas natural gas field, Algeria (AP Photo)

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The three-day hostage standoff at a natural gas plant in Algeria’s Sahara Desert may have taken a dramatic turn. The state news service is reporting that nearly 100 of the 132 foreign workers kidnapped by Islamic militants had been freed.

But that still means that the fate of over 30 foreign energy workers is unknown.

Today’s report from the government news agency didn’t mention any casualties in the battles between Algerian forces and the militants. It earlier had said 18 militants were dead, along with six hostages.

It’s not clear whether the remaining foreigners are still captive, or whether they died during the Algerian military offensive that began yesterday in an effort to free them.

The militants had said 35 hostages died in that operation.

There’s also word today that the militants offered to trade two captive American workers for two terror figures being held in the United States.

According to a statement received by a news site in Mauritania, the two terror suspects include the man considered to be the spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

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