Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

15 Bodies Found as Algeria Launches ‘Final Assault’

The Algerian army on Saturday carried out a “final assault” on al Qaeda-linked gunmen holed up in a desert gas plant, killing 11 of the Islamists after they took the lives of seven foreign hostages.

“It is over now, the assault is over, and the military are inside the plant clearing it of mines,” a local source familiar with the operation told Reuters.

The state oil and gas company, Sonatrach, said the militants who attacked the plant on Wednesday and took a large number of hostages had booby-trapped the gas complex with explosives.

The exact death toll among the gunmen and the foreign and Algerian workers at the plant near the town of In Amenas close to the Libyan border remained unclear.

Earlier on Saturday, Algerian special forces found 15 burned bodies at the plant. Efforts were underway to identify the bodies, the source told Reuters, and it was not clear how they had died.

Sixteen foreign hostages were freed on Saturday, a source close to the crisis said. They included two Americans, two Germans and one Portuguese.

Britain said fewer than 10 of its nationals at the plant were unaccounted for.

The attack on the plant swiftly turned into the biggest international hostage crises in decades, pushing Saharan militancy to the top of the global agenda.

Reports earlier put the number of hostages killed at between 12 to 30, with many foreigners still unaccounted for, among them Norwegians, Japanese, Britons and Americans.

The U.S. State Department said on Friday one American, Frederick Buttaccio, had died but gave no further details. The French defence minister said he understood there were no more French workers among the hostages.

Two Norwegians were released overnight, leaving six unaccounted for, while Romania said three of its nationals had been freed. A number of Japanese engineering workers were still unaccounted for.

Scores of Westerners and hundreds of Algerian workers were inside the heavily fortified compound when it was seized before dawn on Wednesday by Islamist fighters who said they wanted a halt to a French military operation in neighbouring Mali.

Hundreds escaped on Thursday when the army launched its operation, but many hostages were killed.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.