January 18th, 2013
05:35 PM ET

Report: 12 hostages killed in Algeria rescue operation

  • A hostage situation at a gas plant deep in the Algerian desert enters its third day.
  • Confusion surrounds the fate of potentially dozens of foreign hostages held by Islamist militants.
  • It remains unclear how many hostages have been killed or injured, and how many are still held.
  • Below are the latest updates as we get them. Also, you can read our full story.

[Updated at 5:33 p.m. ET] Algerian forces are looking to negotiate the release of remaining foreign captives, Algerian state media reports, but are holding out the threat of further action.

"The special forces of the (Algerian army) are still seeking a peaceful settlement before neutralizing the terrorist group currently entrenched in the refinery, and free a group of hostages who are still detained," according to a report by Algerian state news agency APS.

[Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET] One Frenchman was killed and three others were saved in an operation to free hostages in Algeria, the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris says.

[Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET] Twelve hostages have been killed since Algerian Special Forces launched a ground operation on Thursday to free captives held by militants at a gas field complex, APS, the official Algerian news agency, reported, citing a security source.

[Updated at 1:19 p.m. ET] A U.S. State Department spokeswoman says the U.S. will not negotiate a prisoner exchange with terrorists holding captives in Algeria. It was unclear how many, if any, Americans were being held hostage.

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January 18th, 2013
03:30 PM ET

What we know - and don't - about Algeria hostage situation

Reporting on militants' seizure of workers at a natural-gas complex in eastern Algeria has been a special challenge, in part because outside journalists need a visa and accreditation before they can enter the country.

Access to live information from the Sahara Desert facility which British Prime Minister David Cameron this week noted was "one of the most remote places in the world" and about "18 hours by road from the capital, Algiers" is hard to come by, and conflicting accounts have emerged about the hostages and other aspects of the story.

Here is a look at what CNN has reported from:

WHAT OFFICIAL SOURCES SAY

Initial attack on Wednesday

The incident began when militants attacked workers who were traveling from In Amenas gas field to the In Amenas Airport early Wednesday, Algerian Interior Minister Diho Weld Qabilyeh told Algerian state television. Two people, an Algerian and a Briton, were killed in that attack, according to Algerian and British officials.

After security forces accompanying the workers returned fire, the militants went to the gas installation itself and took hostages, Qabilyeh told Algerian state television.

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Filed under: Algeria • Terrorism
Former New Orleans mayor Nagin charged with bribery, fraud
January 18th, 2013
02:43 PM ET

Former New Orleans mayor Nagin charged with bribery, fraud

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who captured the drama of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with an "SOS" call to the nation, was indicted Friday on 21 federal corruption charges, including bribery, money laundering, fraud and filing false tax returns.

Nagin (pictured) allegedly defrauded the city through "a bribery and kickback scheme" in which he received checks, cash, wire transfers, personal services and free travel from businessmen seeking contracts and favorable treatment from the city, the 25-page federal indictment says.

Read the indictment

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Hurricane Katrina • Louisiana • New Orleans • Politics
January 18th, 2013
10:25 AM ET

Flu getting worse across U.S., government reports

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just released its weekly update on influenza in the U.S. and an early look at the data shows the problem is spreading.

Thirty states now report high levels of influenza-like illness, the CDC says. That's six more than reported high levels last week. California joins the list of states reporting widespread flu activity, meaning 48 states now report widespread flu.

Hospitalizations of elderly people are rising, according to the report.

We'll bring you more details from the report as soon as we get them.

Your top 10 flu questions answered

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Filed under: Health
Exhumation of Illinois lottery winner begins
A crew works on exhuming the body of Urooj Khan from a Chicago cemetery Friday morning.
January 18th, 2013
09:15 AM ET

Exhumation of Illinois lottery winner begins

Workers have begun the process of exhuming the body of an Illinois lottery winner who authorities believe was poisoned.

A crew is digging at the north-side Chicago gravesite of Urooj Khan, whose July death at age 46 came one month after he became a $1 million winner on an Illinois lottery scratch ticket.

Investigators initially ruled Khan's manner of death natural, and Khan was buried. But after being prompted by a relative, the medical examiner's office in Cook County, Illinois, did more in-depth toxicology tests on the blood that the office had, and eventually determined there was a lethal amount of cyanide in Khan's system.

Police are now investigating Khan's death as a murder, and they want to use the exhumation to determine how the cyanide entered Khan's system. No arrests have been made in the case.

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Filed under: Crime • Illinois • Lotto
Navy ship evacuated after running aground
January 18th, 2013
09:12 AM ET

Navy ship evacuated after running aground

The U.S. Navy has evacuated all 79 crew members from a minesweeper that ran aground Thursday on a reef in the Philippines, the Navy's Seventh Fleet said in a statement Friday. Initial efforts to free the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship at high tide were unsuccessful, and the crew was transferred by small boats to other support ships, the Navy said.

The 224-foot-long,1,312-ton ship is stuck on the Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea, the Navy said.

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Filed under: Military • Philippines • U.S. Navy
January 18th, 2013
08:31 AM ET

French, Malian forces retake town from insurgents

The central Malian town of Konna has been retaken by French and Malian forces Friday, a high-ranking French observer on the ground told CNN. Insurgents took the town last Thursday, but started retreating a week ago after a combined air and ground assault.

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Filed under: Mali
Indonesia floods kill 12; thousands flee raging waters
January 18th, 2013
08:08 AM ET

Indonesia floods kill 12; thousands flee raging waters

Heavy flooding in the Indonesian capital this week has killed 12 people, driven thousands from their homes and paralyzed the sprawling city - and officials are warning that more water is on its way.

Caused by unusually strong monsoon rains, the flood waters - often carrying trash and human waste - have inundated the city's central business district, closed schools and offices, and entered the presidential palace.

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Filed under: Flooding • Indonesia • Weather • World