WASHINGTON- The apparent leader of a commando group that took hundreds of gas workers hostage in Algeria warned in a recording broadcast Saturday that he would blow them up if the army got too close.
In the audio recording, broadcast by the Malian news agency ANI, Al-Mulathameen Brigade commander Abdul Rahman al-Nigeri of Niger spoke late Thursday as the Algerian military surrounded his fighters’ position at a BP oil plant deep in the Sahara desert at In Amenas.
At the time, Algerian soldiers had already mounted an assault that had killed a number of kidnappers and hostages. Nigeri said that half of the fighters and 35 hostages were killed, while the Algerian authorities had cut off ground communications.
“Some of the hostages are still alive and they are being held by some of the brothers in the gas factory. Praise be to Allah. Praise be to Allah,” he said in the recording, according to a translation by the US-based SITE Monitoring Service.
“By Allah, we will blow them up if the Algerian army gets close to us.”
Nigeri said Algerian forces had cut off the militants’ communications network, including satellite phones.
Algerian troops stormed the plant earlier Saturday to end the hostage crisis that left 23 foreigners and Algerians dead, seven of them executed by their captors in a final military assault.