Algeria hostage drama: 'two of the militants were Canadian'
Prime Minister Sellal says one ringleader was Canadian but security source claims two
CANADA’S peace-loving reputation was dealt a blow today when an Algerian security source told Reuters that two of the jihadi militants who raided the BP gas plant at In Amenas last week were Canadian citizens.
The source said Canadian documents were found on their bodies at the end of the siege in which at least 80 people are now known to have died, including foreigner contractors, Algerian workers and hostage takers.
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told a televised press conference today that at least one of the militants appeared to have been Canadian - "judging by his English accent" - and that he was one of those who co-ordinated the attack. But the Reuters source insists there were two Canadians.
The Toronto-based Globe and Mail says Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry was "seeking clarity" today on a possible Canadian connection to the raid. "We are in close contact with Algerian authorities, but nothing confirmed yet," a spokesman told the paper.
According to the Globe and Mail, the Algerian television station Ennahar also cited security source when it reported: "Two bodies of Canadian citizens were recovered among the terrorists in Ain Amenas."
It is also known that at least one of the jihadi militants was French and there have been further reports of English-speaking men among the hostage-takers.
Sellal explained today that his special forces had mounted their rescue mission after the militants’ demands had become increasingly unreasonable. Also, the men carried "a massive arsenal" which which they planned to blow up the gas plant.
Reuters also reported today that the veteran Islamist fighter Mokhtar Belmokhtar had claimed responsibility for the attack on In Amenas on behalf of al-Qaeda.