U.S. Air Force swoops in on Algeria plant as terrorists demand hostage swap

The Amenas Gas Field in Algeria, which is jointly operated by BP and Norway's Statoil and Algeria's Sonatrach. The Amenas Gas Field in Algeria, which is jointly operated by BP and Norway's Statoil and Algeria's Sonatrach. DigitalGlobe/AP

The Algerian hostage situation is about as serious as its details are hazy, but as it enters its third day reports are emerging that the U.S. Air Force "is in the process of evacuating Americans and other individuals." Algerian state television reported this morning that Thursday's suspect mission by Algeria's military freed 650 hostages — 573 of them Algerian — and that "over half" of the 132 foreign workers held hostage have been freed. That leaves some 60 unaccounted for, with a Mauritanian news siteclaiming that the militant group behind the attack on a BP gas facility wants to swap two Americans for jailed terror figures.

The foreign reports, like those on the first and second days of the hostage situation, remain unconfirmed, but the well-placed sources of CNN's Barbara Starr tell her that, a day after the U.S. sent a surveillance drone, help is on the way, with Algerian special forces helping on the ground: 

The U.S. Air Force is in the process of evacuating Americans and other individuals who were involved in the hostage incident at a gas plant in Algeria, a U.S. defense official tells CNN's Barbara Starr. The C-130 is taking the evacuees to Europe, the source said. About 10 to 20 evacuees were expected to be on the flight, according to the source.

Read more at The Atlantic Wire

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