Hostages in Algeria ‘made to wear explosives’
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FRANCE 24 has spoken to a French national who says he is one of the 150 hostages at the gas facility in southeast Algeria. The hostage said that they have been forced to wear explosive belts and that this militants are "heavily armed".
FRANCE 24 spoke to one of the hostages at the BP-Statoil-Sonatrach gas plant in eastern Algeria on Wednesday, the site of a deadly pre-dawn raid in which over 150 Algerians and around 40 Western foreigners were taken by Islamist militants.
French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said Thursday that Paris could not yet confirm the presence of French nationals among those taken captive, but Socialist MP Bruno Le Roux told French radio there were “surely” some French among the group.
The man, who declined to be identified by name, told FRANCE 24 that there were British, Japanese, Philippine and Malaysian nationals among the hostages.
He said the militants simultaneously stormed the gas plant as well as the workers’ living quarters. “They came in and once there was daylight, grouped us all together.”
He said the attackers were heavily armed and forced several hostages to wear explosives belts. They threatened to blow up the gas field if Algerian forces attempted to enter the site.
FRANCE 24 could not verify if the testimony was made under duress.