Jan. 17 - Reports suggest hostages, among dozens of locals and foreigners held at an Algerian oil plant, have escaped, while some others have been killed in an air strike by Algerian forces. Simon Hanna reports.
A remote natural gas plant deep in the Algerian Sahara, now the site of an international crisis. Gunmen stormed the location before dawn on Wednesday, killing a reported three people and taking dozens hostage - including foreign nationals: Americans, Japanese and Europeans. The perpetrators are al Qaeda-linked fighters, who say they are acting in response to France's military intervention in Mali's civil war. On Thursday world leaders came out in condemnation of the attack. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (SOUNBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: "Firstly, I would like to say that these kinds of acts are absolutely unforgivable. After hearing the news last night, I gave out these three orders: First- act giving priority to the lives of the people. Second, gather as much information as possible, and third coordinate as closely as possible with the relevant nations." British Foreign Secretary William Hague strongly condemned the hostage takers who killed at least one Briton. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY WILLIAM HAGUE: "There is no excuse for such behaviour, whatever excuse they may claim. It is absolutely unacceptable of course. It is in this case the cold blooded murder of people going about their business. So there is no excuse whether it be connected to Libya, Mali or anywhere else." By the middle of Thursday local time a series of fast moving events were reportedly underway, including that Algerian forces were storming the plant.