Some Hostages Reported to Escape Sahara Siege
Some hostages were reported to have escaped from a remote Algerian gas plant on Thursday, where dozens of foreigners and scores of Algerians were seized by Islamist gunmen demanding a halt to a French military campaign in neighboring Mali.
Governments around the world were holding emergency meetings to respond to one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades, which sharply raises the stakes over the week-old French campaign against al Qaeda-linked rebels in the Sahara.
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.