At least 30 hostages and 11 members of an al-Qaeda-affiliated group were killed when Algerian forces stormed a desert gas plant to free the captives, Reuters news agency has quoted an Algerian security source as saying.
Eight Algerians and seven foreigners, including two British, two Japanese and a French national, were among the dead, the source said.
Algerian state television reported earlier that four foreigners had been killed after the end of the operation was announced late on Thursday.
Communication Minister Mohamed Said said troops had been forced to act after talks with the kidnappers failed.
He said many fighters had been killed in the operation at the In Amenas gas field.
Earlier, a spokesman for the group holding the hostages said 34 of the captives had been killed along with 15 kidnappers as a government helicopter attacked a convoy transporting hostages and their captors.Somebody asked me on another forum whether the Algerian security services were worse than Spetznaz. They don't seem to have killed as many hostages as Spetznaz did in the theatre siege in Moscow and in the school in Beslan so, perhaps, not.
The BBC gives the older numbers of victims but points out that the site is still being searched whether for victims or militants is not clear. In fact, nothing is clear. The government is awaiting precise information about the fate of the British hostages.
An earlier piece in the Financial Times said that
UK officials said they were not informed about the operation before it was launched. David Cameron, UK prime minister, postponed a long-awaited speech on Britain’s relationship with Europe, describing the crisis in Algeria a “difficult, dangerous and potentially very bad situation”.The implication is that they are not best pleased either as the operation does not seem to have been particularly well planned or carried out. In the meantime, what of THAT speech? Can the Prime Minister not make it in London?