Terroristene hevder at den algeriske hæren har angrepet med helikoptre og at 35 gisler er drept og 15 av deres egne. Det kommer stadig flere vitneutsagn om at den algeriske hæren har satt igang en militæroperasjon.
Reuters har fått tak i en algirer som med egne øyne har sett mange døde.
The resident, who asked not to be identified, said there were many bodies at the scene. He did not give firm numbers of the dead or say whether they were kidnappers, hostages or both.
Mauritania’s ANI news agency, which has been in constant contact with the kidnappers, reported that 34 of the captives and 15 of the captors had been killed when government forces fired from helicopters while the kidnappers were trying to move some of their prisoners.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera television carried a similar report. Those details could not be immediately confirmed.
ANI quoted a spokesman for the kidnappers as saying they would kill the rest of their captives if the army approached.
Governments around the world were holding emergency meetings to respond to one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades, which sharply raised the stakes in a week-old French campaign against al Qaeda-linked rebels in the Sahara.
An Algerian security source earlier said 25 foreign hostages had escaped the besieged compound, including two Japanese.
The source told Reuters the captors had demanded safe passage out with their prisoners. Algeria has refused to negotiate with what it says is a band of about 20 fighters.
Det britiske utenriksdepartement bekrefter at det pågår en militæroperasjon. Det er svært risikabelt for gislene.
The hostage situation in an Algerian natural gas complex appeared to reach a dangerous crescendo Thursday, with Islamic militants claiming that Algerian helicopter attacks have left 35 hostages and 15 captors dead.
Details were still emerging Thursday morning and there was no official confirmation from U.S. or other governments involved on the reported deaths. The British Foreign office did confirm that they were aware of an «ongoing military operation.»
A diplomatic source confirmed to CBS News that the Algerian military had a plan to retake the facility and that there have been casualties among both the terrorists and hostages, including multiple deaths.
A British security source, citing a contact close to the scene, told CBS News «that the Algerians were firing from helicopters at anything that moved,» but could not confirm any deaths.