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Algeria's gas field attackers from Libya: minister

Algeria Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said Thursday that the militants who assaulted a gas- field in southern Illizi province were from Libya.

The local Echoroukonline website quoted Ould Kablia as saying that "All the facts show that the assaulters came from the Libyan territories," adding that "the attack was plotted by terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar in the Libyan territory."

On Wednesday, Ould Kablia told a state-run television that "the assaulters are from the region of Illizi, and they covered their face so as not to be recognized."

"Well, I preferred saying that they are from the region, because I didn't have enough information," he explained to Echoroukonline.

As for the number of the hostages, the minister said "We have requested the facility administration to provide us the list of the workers, so we can identify the number." Meanwhile, a medical source in a local hospital near Illizi, told Xinhua that about 15 militants were killed in the operation and their dead bodies were subject to identification.

Earlier in the day, as many as 30 Algerian and foreign hostages managed to escape from their captors and were received by army helicopters, according to local media.

Algerian Minister of Communication Mohamed Said Oubelaid confirmed later Thursday the deaths and injuries among the hostages detained by the armed group in the ongoing gas field attack.

The Communication Minister said that "the operation launched by the National Army to free the hostages left many militants killed, " adding that "Unfortunately, there were some deaths and injuries among the hostages."

"The purpose of this terrorist attack is to destroy the ( Algerian) national economy which depends 98 percent on oil and gas exports," the minister said.

At dawn on Wednesday, an armed group attacked a gas-field in the locality of Tiguentourine in Illizi, killing two people and injuring six, according to official source. At least 41 foreigners were also kidnapped by the armed group called "Battalion of Blood.

[Source: Xinhua, Algiers, 17Jan13]

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