Militants in Algeria have demanded that the army withdraw from a gas field where they are holding a group of foreigners in order for negotiations to begin.
“We demand the Algerian army pull out from the area to allow negotiations,” said one of the kidnappers, identified as Abu al-Baraa, on Thursday.
Algerian Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia stated that the authorities “will not answer the terrorists’ demands and refuse all negotiation.”
On Wednesday, militants repelled an attack by the Algerian army trying to rescue over 40 kidnapped foreigners, among them French, British and American nationals.
The incident took place when Nigerian soldiers made an attempt to enter the gas installation in Algeria’s town of In Amenas. The gas field in is jointly operated by British oil giant BP, Norway’s Statoil and Algeria’s Sonatrach.
Baraa further said that Algerian snipers had opened fire at the site injuring a Japanese national.
He confirmed there were “around 41” hostages from several countries including Norway, France, the United States, Britain, Romania, Colombia, Thailand, Philippines, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, and Germany.
Also on Wednesday, some 20 armed men attacked a bus carrying foreign gas workers who were about to depart via a nearby airport. One French and one British national were killed in the pre-dawn attack and six others sustained injuries.
The hostage-takers are demanding an immediate end to France’s military intervention in neighboring Mali.
On January 11, France launched a military intervention in Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of militants in the African country.