Tripoli, 17 January:
In a series of contradictory Algerian government accounts, two Libyans were reported among Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists who attacked the In Amenas gas production facility some 100 kilometres west the Libyan border at dawn on Wednesday.
It has also been asserted both that the attackers had crossed into Algeria from Libya and that the assailants came from neither Libya nor Mali
AFP has reported Algerian MInister of Interior and Local Authorities, Daho Ould Kablia, as asserting that though all the kidnappers were Algeria, they had entered the country from Libya. However, at the start of the stand-off, during which the Algerians refused to negotiate, Kablia was quoted by the Algerian Press Agency as saying that the terrorists had not come from outside his country.
Tonight, Thursday, it was not clear how many hostages had originally been taken or how many had perished when Algerian helicopters reportedly opened fire on terrorists seeking to escape with some of the hostages in two four-wheel drive vehicles.
Indeed, it is not entirely certain that the siege of the gas installation by special forces in actually over. Some reports say that following the shooting up of the two fleeing vehicles, the remaining terrorists within the accommodation area of the plant continued to hold out, with some of the hostages.
There seems little doubt that the terrorist operation, which analysts believe was carefully planned, was mounted by a breakaway faction of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) known both as the Masked Brigade and the Battalion of Blood, which is led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar.