Published January 19, 2013
AIN AMENAS, Algeria – 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.