Two dead, others kidnapped by Islamist militants at Algeria gas plant

In Amenas gas facility

Islamist militants affiliated with Al Qaeda attacked the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria Wednesday morning, killing two people and injuring seven. A French national is one of the dead, and the attack is believed to be retaliatory against French military intervention in Mali. Algeria’s new agency says a security guard for the facility was also killed.

Nine people have been kidnapped from the facility. Nearly all the kidnapped people are foreign nationals. At least five come from Japan and one is believed to be Norwegian. The Irish Government has says an Irishman has also been kidnapped. Reports say the attack focused on a bus taking workers from the plant to an airport.

The Algerian military has begun operations to rescue the hostages. News reports say the hostages are being held by fighters under the command of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a known Islamist militant.

France has been granted permission to use Algerian air space, including in recent operations against al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in Mali. Those militants reportedly vowed retaliation for the attack.

The In Amenas facility is operated by a joint venture made up of BP, Statoil, and Algerian state company Sonatrach. Both Statoil and BP have already announced emergency mobilization.

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