Outcome of Algeria Hostage Rescue Still Unclear

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Algeria's special forces killed 11 Islamic militants in a final assault Saturday as they stormed a natural gas complex in the Sahara desert. The raid also in turn killed seven hostages, the state news agency reported.
 
The report, quoting a security source, didn't specify if any hostages or militants remained alive or give the nationalities of the dead.

On Friday, one American worker among more than 100 kidnapped in Algeria by Islamic terrorists was found dead, U.S. officials said.

The officials identified the man as Frederick Buttaccio, a Texas resident. They said it was unclear how he died.

Meanwhile, Algeria's government news agency reported late Friday aftenroon that nearly 100 of 132 kidnapped foreign workers had been freed in the hostage standoff in that country.

They report that at least 12 hostages had been killed since Wednesday when the operation to rescue them began. The fate of some 20 foreign workers, however, is still unclear.

What should the U.S. government be doing? CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck has more, on CBN Newswatch, Jan. 18.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken for the third straight day with the Algerian Prime Minister.

Clinton is trying to secure the release of Americans still held hostage.

Islamic militants originally seized hundreds of workers at the remote gas plant far away from the capital. The terrorists freed most of them, who were Algerian, almost immediately.

Algeria now says another 100 are free. Before the rescue, at least five Americans managed to escape along with an Irish worker from Belfast.

"I'm elated. I can barely describe how happy I am," Stephen McFaul's mother said Friday.

Her son called his family immediately after he was in a safe area, telling them that he leapt to safety from a jeep after it came under attack.

Sources told the Associated Press that U.S. officials were kept in the dark about the rescue. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday that he was not consulted,

"I was told by the Algerian Prime Minister while it was taking place. He said that the terrorists had tried to flee, that they judged there to be an immediate threat to the lives of the hostages and had felt obliged to respond," Cameron told Parliament.

The area around the complex is so remote and communication is so difficult that no one is really clear what ishappening.

"This is a large and complex site and they are still pursuing terrorists and possibly some of the hostages in other areas of the site," Cameron continued.

U.S. officials have confirmed that an American military plane is on the ground near the facility, ready to evacuate those who need military help.

There's also word today that the kidnappers want to trade two American hostages for two terror suspects held in the United States.

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Heather Sells

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Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics.  Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.