World

Algeria: Day 4 of hostage standoff with international band of militants

  • CAPTION CORRECTION, CORRECTS TO THE CITY OF AMENAS, ALGERIA, NOT THE AMENAS GAS FIELD, WHICH IS 45 KM FROM THE CITY AND NOT VISIBLE IN THIS IMAGE - This Oct. 8, 2012 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the city of Amenas, Algeria. At the Amenas Gas Field, 45 km from the city and not shown in this image, Algerian special forces launched a rescue operation Thursday and freed foreign hostages held by al-Qaida-linked militants, but estimates for the number of dead varied wildly from four to dozens. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

    CAPTION CORRECTION, CORRECTS TO THE CITY OF AMENAS, ALGERIA, NOT THE AMENAS GAS FIELD, WHICH IS 45 KM FROM THE CITY AND NOT VISIBLE IN THIS IMAGE - This Oct. 8, 2012 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the city of Amenas, Algeria. At the Amenas Gas Field, 45 km from the city and not shown in this image, Algerian special forces launched a rescue operation Thursday and freed foreign hostages held by al-Qaida-linked militants, but estimates for the number of dead varied wildly from four to dozens. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)  (The Associated Press)

  • Unidentified rescued hostages pose for the media in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television  Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days.  The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie  via Associated Press TV)  **  TV OUT   ALGERIA OUT  **

    Unidentified rescued hostages pose for the media in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Associated Press TV) ** TV OUT ALGERIA OUT **  (The Associated Press)

  • An unidentified rescued hostage receives treatment in a hospital in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television  Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days.  The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie  via Associated Press TV)  **  TV OUT   ALGERIA OUT  **

    An unidentified rescued hostage receives treatment in a hospital in Ain Amenas, Algeria, in this image taken from television Friday Jan. 18, 2013. Algeria’s state news service says nearly 100 out of 132 foreign hostages have been freed from a gas plant where Islamist militants had held them captive for three days. The APS news agency report was an unexpected indication of both more hostages than had previously been reported and a potentially breakthrough development in what has been a bloody siege. (AP Photo/Canal Algerie via Associated Press TV) ** TV OUT ALGERIA OUT **  (The Associated Press)

Algerian security forces are facing day four of a standoff with an international band of Islamist extremists still holding foreign hostages at a remote gas plant.

At least 12 people, perhaps many more, died in a government attack on a convoy of militants Thursday whose outcome remained unclear by Saturday morning.

Hundreds of Algerian and foreign workers have been freed. But Algerian authorities have not said how many hostages remain in the main refinery of the Ain Amenas plant in southeast Algeria.

Freed hostages have described being used as human shields and strapped with explosive belts.

A Mauritanian website close to the militants says they are led by a militant from Niger and numbered about 40. Algeria's APS news agency says they are from several countries and number about 30.