Foreign Secretary William Hague has confirmed that one British person has been shot dead and a number of others are being held hostage in the BP gas plant in Algeria.
Reports claim as many as 41 foreign workers, including British nationals, are believed to have been kidnapped and Algerian troops have surrounded the field located in a remote eastern part of the country. The Algeria Press Service reported earlier today that around 30 Algerian workers have managed to escape.
Dahou Ould Qabliyah, Algerian Interior Minister told a news outlet there could be around 20 “terrorists” inside the base and that Algerian authorities would not negotiate with them.
Gordon Corera, BBC’s Security Correspondent told Radio 5 it would be very difficult to see how the rescue would take place. He added the plant being located at a remote facility in the desert, the fact the hostage takers are well armed and the political decision would be challenging.
He said: “Who would do the rescuing? The Algerian forces, that’s one issue… But in terms of sending in the SAS, one of the issues is there is so many nationalities there – you’ve got Americans, Brits, potentially Norwegians, Japanese. Which country would do the rescuing and would they need to get a sign-off from the other countries? What if another country objected and said ‘We think this is too risky, we want to negotiate, we want to just wait and see what happens’? I think that issue also makes it very complicated to see how a rescue would take place. I think the Algerians would most likely be in the lead at the moment in looking at whether there is a negotiated solution or whether they try and use force, with Western special forces perhaps in the background just in case.”
In a statement released today, BP said the situation on site remains “unresolved and fragile” and a number of the firm’s staff are among those held on the site.
Bob Dudley, BP’s Chief Executive said: “BP’s overriding priority is to do all we can to ensure the safety of our staff and to support their families during this anguishing time. All our efforts are focussed on supporting the authorities to secure a peaceful resolution of the situation and the safe return of our colleagues and all other workers being detained.”
The firm added it is in contact with the families of those staff and is offering them support and information, in addition to being in regular contact with the Algerian authorities.
The In Amenas gas field and its facilities are operated by a joint venture of the Algerian national oil company Sonatrach, BP and Statoil.