- Conflict & Crisis
By Sarah Dee
January 22, 2013
Many have been following the story of the hostage situation in Algeria over the past week and it seems that the dust is finally settling. Algerian forces raided to quell the Islamist militants’ attack, but unfortunately many foreign hostages were lost in the process. It appears that the militants were targeting foreigners all along.
One of the now freed hostages describes the terrifying ordeal in his own words, in this Associated Press piece, from the moment the plant lost power:
“I ran together with other expats and hid under the desks in my office, locking the door. Attackers went scanning the office facility kicking the doors in. Luckily our door did not break and they went on to other offices,” he said. “Locals were freed, the attackers made clear from the beginning that only foreigners were a target. Expats were detained.”
The Algerian Prime Minister said Monday that the militants must have had help from a Nigerian driver that previously work at the location because they, “knew the facility’s layout by heart.” This is significant to note because the huge oil field compound is located in the Sahara desert about 800 miles south of Algiers, Algeria’s capital. The only way for the militants to know their way about the premises would be for them to have had prior knowledge of its layout. Algeria’s prime minister also said that two members of the band of militants were Canadians.
“The militants had said during the standoff that their band included people from Canada, and hostages who had escaped recalled hearing at least one of the militants speaking English with a North American accent…Officials in Canada could not confirm that any of the attackers were from there.”