Algerian gas plant siege over; 81 dead

The largest hostage crisis of the last decade has come to the end, as a raid on the In Amenas gas plant by Algerian military has freed more than 800 workers

The largest hostage crisis of the last decade has come to the end, as a raid on the In Amenas gas plant by Algerian military has freed more than 800 workers, including approximately 100 foreign nationals. The plant had been held by Islamist militants since Wednesday. The death toll now stands at 81, and reports say 5 of the militants have been taken into custody, while another 3 escaped.

The raid, the second one during the 4-day crisis, happened Saturday. Full details of the siege are still coming out, furthering a problem of conflicting, limited information since the beginning of the siege. At time, news outlets have reported wildly different number of dead and freed people.

The raid began Wednesday, when the militants kidnapped hostages from a bus traveling between the gas plant and a nearby airport. More hostages were taken from a nearby living quarters for plant workers. Foreign nationals among the workers include people from nearly 30 countries across the globe.

The In Amenas gas plant is located in Eastern Algeria, approximately 60 kilometers from the Libyan border. The plant is run by state-controlled Sonatrach, with BP and Statoil. Sonatrach estimates the plant has lost an estimated $11-million a day since its shutdown because of the siege. There is no word when the plant will restart.

The militants were reportedly working for known militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who has taken credit for the attack. According to Belmokhtar, it was in response to French attacks on Islamists in Mali, part of Paris’ anti-terror efforts there.

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