41 foreigners seized in Algeria attack

Updated 16 January 2013
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41 foreigners seized in Algeria attack

ALGIERS: Militants attacked a gas field in Algeria yesterday, claiming to have kidnapped up to 41 foreigners including seven Americans in a dawn raid, according to regional media reports.
The raid, claimed by an Al-Qaeda affiliate, came after militants had vowed to retaliate for France's military intervention in Mali, where its forces have been in action against Al-Qaeda-linked militants since last week.
The incident also raised fears that the French action could prompt further revenge attacks on Western targets in Africa, where Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operates across borders in the Sahara desert, and in Europe.
The Al-Qaeda group said it had carried out yesterday's raid on the In Amenas facility in Algeria, Mauritania's ANI news agency reported.
The gas field, located close to the border with Libya, is operated by a joint venture including BP, Norwegian oil firm Statoil and Algerian state company Sonatrach.
A French national was killed in the attack, a local source said, but it was unclear if the victim was one of those kidnapped.
Algeria's official APS news agency said that one security guard had been killed and seven people were injured including two foreigners.
Five Japanese nationals working for the Japanese engineering firm JCG Corp were kidnapped as well as a French national, local officials said. An Irishman was also seized, the Irish government said, while a diplomatic source said an American had been kidnapped.
Also kidnapped was a Norwegian gas worker, the newspaper Bergens Tidende said, quoting the man's wife.
"I received a phone call from my husband this morning and he said he was kidnapped," the woman said. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry could not confirm the report.
The foreigners were taken from In Amenas in the morning. Algerian troops had mounted an operation to rescue the hostages and had also surrounded the workers' camp at Tiguentourine, a local source said. A French source said that the raiders had come from Libya.
Algeria has allowed France to use its air space during its military intervention against Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Mali, although officials have yet to make a link between yesterday's attack and the conflict in Algeria's southern neighbor.
ANI, which has regular direct contact with rebels, said that fighters under the command of Mokhtar Belmokhtar were holding the foreigners seized from the gas field.


Houthi militias 'recruit children and force them to fight on Yemen front lines'

Updated 10 min 22 sec ago
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Houthi militias 'recruit children and force them to fight on Yemen front lines'

  • Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the Iran-backed group are also using civilians as human shields in Hodeidah, where a battle is raging for control of the country’s largest port.
  • The coalition spokesman said eight members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, were seized in an ambush in Saada —  the province in the north which is a Houthi stronghold.

RIYADH: Yemen’s Houthi militias are recruiting children by force and making them fight on the front lines, the Saudi-led coalition said on Monday.

Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the Iran-backed group are also using civilians as human shields in Hodeidah, where a battle is raging for control of the country’s largest port.

The claims came a day after Saudi air defenses intercepted two ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis over the capital.

The attack brings the total number of ballistic missiles launched by the militia against Saudi Arabia to 155, Al-Maliki said at a press conference in Riyadh.

In Yemen, he said coalition forces were removing hundreds of thousands of land mines planted by the Houthis. 

Army engineering support teams were continuing demining operations in Hajjah, northwestern Yemen and more than 600,000 planted by the Houthis in Hodeidah have been removed so far, Al-Maliki said. 

Yemeni pro-government forces backed by the Arab coalition are fighting to seize the city from the Houthis. The capture of the city and its port - one of the main supply lines to the country, could prove to be pivotal in the outcome of the war. 

The coalition have called on the Houthis to withdraw from the city.  

UN envoy Martin Griffiths is due in Aden on Wednesday for talks with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee the capital Sanaa when the Houthis seized the city in 2014. 

Al-Maliki also gave an update on progress made by pro-government forces in other parts of the country.

The coalition spokesman said eight members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, were seized in an ambush in Saada —  the province in the north which is a Houthi stronghold.

They were captured on Monday along with a senior Houthi leader in the Al-Malahit district.

Al-Maliki said Yemeni forces had succeeded in controlling several villages in Al-Bayda province and that the Yemeni army had regained control of several positions in Harf Sufyan, west of Taiz.

“The Yemeni army, with the support of the Saudi-led coalition, continues its advances in Saada,” he added.

Al-Maliki said the Saudi-led coalition supports all the efforts of UN envoy Griffiths.

The Saudi coalition sent 12 trucks carrying aid to Hodeidah and the coalition will continue to allow relief vessels to enter the port, despite Houthi efforts to block aid access to civilians.