January 16th, 2013
07:06 PM ET

Americans among hostages at Algerian gas field

[Updated at 7:06 p.m. ET] A claim by hostage-takers in Algeria that they are holding seven Americans is inaccurate, with the real number thought to be as few as three, two U.S. officials said Wednesday.

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[Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET] Islamic militants have released Algerian hostages - but not other hostages - whom the militants had taken at an Algerian gas field near the Libyan border, Algerian State TV has reported.

Foreign hostages - from Norway, Britain, the United States, France and Japan - still reportedly were being held.

Meanwhile, Algerian authorities have received demands from the militants, but the government will not negotiate, the Algerian Interior Minister said in an interview with state television.

[Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET] Americans are among the hostages that Islamists have taken at an Algerian gas field, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday. She wouldn't say how many people were taken.

North African media outlets report that more than 40 Westerners have been taken hostage by Islamists who are angry over Algiers' support for a French offensive in Mali.

At least one foreigner died and others were kidnapped in the attack on the In Amenas field near the Libyan border in the east, Algeria's Interior Ministry. Algerian media later reported a second person, a British national, was killed as well.

[Updated at 11:54 a.m. ET] At least one foreigner died, six people were injured and an undetermined number of people taken hostage in a terrorist attack on a gas field in eastern Algeria, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

[Initial post at 11:24] A gas field in Algeria was attacked Wednesday morning by "unidentified armed people," who are now occupying the site, BP said.

British nationals are caught up in the incident, the British Foreign Office said. Ireland's foreign minister says there are reports that an Irish citizen also is involved. The office of the French president refused to comment on reports that French citizens also are involved. The In Amenas field is operated by a joint venture of Sonatrach (the Algerian national oil company), BP and Statoil, BP said.