15 utenlandske gisler og 40 algirere skal ha klart å flykte fra In Amenas-anlegget, opplyser en algerisk TV-stasjon.
Algeria’s Ennahar television said 15 foreigners, including two French citizens, had escaped the besieged plant deep in the Sahara desert. About 40 Algerians had also been freed, mainly women working as translators, it said.
A security source told Reuters the captors, encircled by Algerian troops, were demanding safe passage out with their prisoners. Algeria has refused to negotiate.
Både fransk tv og al jazeera har fått ringe til gisler. Trolig er det de sier enten blitt styrt eller det fremsettes under press. Blant annet har gisler sagt at noen av dem er blitt utstyrt med selvmordsbelter.
Beskrivelsen med tungt væpnede menn som sperrer gislene inne i adskilte rom rimer dårlig med at mange har klart å flykte.
The hostage takers appear to have allowed some prisoners to speak to the media to put pressure on Algerian forces not to storm the compound. An unidentified hostage who spoke to France 24 television said prisoners were being forced to wear explosive belts. Their captors were heavily armed and had threatened to blow up the plant if the Algerian army tried to storm it.
«They attacked the two sites at the same time. They went inside, and once it was daylight they gathered everyone together,» the man, who sounded calm, said in the only part of the phone call the French broadcaster aired.
Another hostage, identified as British, spoke to Al Jazeera television and called on the Algerian army to withdraw from the area to avoid casualties.
«We are receiving care and good treatment from the kidnappers. The (Algerian) army did not withdraw and they are firing at the camp,» the man said. «There are around 150 Algerian hostages. We say to everybody that negotiations is a sign of strength and will spare many any loss of life.»
Another hostage, identified as Irish, told the Qatar-based channel the hostages included French, American, Japanese, British, Irish and Norwegian citizens.
«The situation is deteriorating. We have contacted the embassies and we call on the Algerian army to withdraw … We are worried because of the continuation of the firing.»
After what it said was a phone interview with one of the hostage takers, the Mauritanian news agency ANI said Algerian security forces had tried to approach the facility at dawn.
«We will kill all the hostages if the Algerian army try to storm the area,» it quoted the hostage taker as saying. Algeria has not commented on reports its troops tried to approach.