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Armed Conflict

Algerian TV: 25 bodies found at gas plant

Twenty-five bodies have been found at a remote gas plant seized by militants, Algerian TV has reported. At least 23 hostages and 32 kidnappers had earlier been confirmed dead.

The bodies are believed to belong to hostages executed by the Islamist militants at the In Aminas gas plant, the Algerian television station Ennahar TV said Sunday.

It is not immediately clear if the 23 earlier reported dead were included in Sunday's 25 toll.

Earlier in the day, Algerian Communications Minister Mohamed Said told Channel 3 public radio that he expected the number of people left dead to rise after special forces stormed the facility.

"I fear that it may be revised upward," he said, referring to the number of people killed.

In a final assault to end the crisis Saturday, "the Algerian army took out 11 terrorists, and the terrorist group killed seven foreign hostages," state television said.

During the 72-hour standoff, 32 of the kidnappers were killed. Additionally, the army announced that it had freed "685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners."

Many dead or missing

Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that at least three British citizens had been killed in the crisis. One Briton was killed when gunman seized the hostages before dawn Wednesday at the plant, run by Norway's Statoil, Britain's BP and Algeria's state oil company.

Algeria: a bloody end to the hostage crisis

"Tragically, we now know that three British nationals have been killed, and a further three are believed to be dead," Cameron said in a statement released Sunday. "And also a further British resident is also believed to be dead."

The Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp said 17 of its workers remain unaccounted for.

People from Colombia, Norway, Kuala Lumpur and the US have also been killed or remain missing.

World leaders supportive

Since the crisis ended, international leaders, including those of countries whose nationals were killed in the hostage-taking, have expressed support for how the Algerian authorities handled the crisis. Previously, some governments had expressed frustration at the fact that they had not been informed prior to Algerian forces' moving in.

French President Francois Hollande said that, though the details of the assault were not yet known, it was clear that negotiations with the hostage-takers were not possible, and that Algeria had responded in the "most suitable" way.

In his first public comment on the issue, US President Barack Obama placed the blame for the crisis squarely on "the terrorists who carried it out."

In a statement released by the White House, Obama condemned the hostage-taking in the "strongest possible terms," adding that Washington would "continue to work closely with all of our partners to combat the scourge of terrorism in the region, which has claimed too many innocent lives."

dr,pfd/mkg (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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