Algerian hostage crisis latest: Alex Salmond says number of Scots are ‘safe and well’
A number of Scots who were held hostage in the Algerian terror attack are now “safe and well”, according to First Minister Alex Salmond.
• Crisis could be bloodbath as reports say Algerian army attacked plant with rockets.
• Wife of freed Scot tells how she just wants him home.
• Three Scots thought to be caught up in incident.
Today, a statement issued from the First Minister said: “We are not confirming numbers or other details at this stage as the situation continues to be fluid and is not yet resolved.
“However, our police service in Scotland have confirmed that a number of people identified as resident in Scotland, who had been held captive in the In Amenas facility and of whom I spoke yesterday in parliament, have now been confirmed as safe and well.”
Mr Salmond said: “The full extent of the Algerian hostage crisis is still not known but this is clearly a tragic situation and our thoughts at this difficult time are with the families of all those who have been caught up in events in Algeria.
“The Scottish police forces involved have all done an excellent job in difficult circumstances in identifying those individuals who live in Scotland and contacting their families. In each case, police officers continue to offer every support to the families at this worrying and uncertain time.
“We extend our sympathies to the families and friends of those innocent people affected from many countries by this disgraceful terrorist incident.
“We continue to work closely with the UK Government to monitor the situation and stand ready to offer any assistance we possibly can. Our thoughts remain with all of those who are affected by this tragedy.”
Cameron’s request ignored
The terrorist attack began on Wednesday morning when heavily armed militants launched a dawn raid, killing two people and injuring six others.
The attackers, reportedly led by veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, threatened previously to “eliminate” the hostages if they were attacked.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said the number of British citizens at risk in the attack has now been “quite significantly reduced”.
It had been reported that around 30 British citizens were believed to be “at risk”.
Mr Cameron told MPs that the Algerian government had not warned him it was planning to take military action to end the terrorist attack at a gasfield, despite his request to be kept informed.
The situation in Algeria is continuing, the Prime Minister said, but he hopes it will be resolved shortly.
“I just want him to come home”
Meanwhile the family of a Scots oil worker was today praying for his safe return after he was caught up in the crisis which has claimed dozens of lives.
Mark Grant, 29, is believed to have contacted his family in Grangemouth to say he is safe and well.
His wife Emma, 30, said: “I just want him to come home.”
She added: “ We’ve got a little girl to think about.”
The father-of-one, who is employed by BP as a project services contracts administrator, is understood to be with the Algerian army – but it is not clear if he was freed, rescued by Algerian forces, or managed to escape.
There are reports that there has been a bloodbath at the complex with up to 50 people, including 20 hostages, reported killed after Algerian troops attempted a rescue mission by attacking the Sahara plant with rockets.
Mr Grant is believed to have been one of three Scots among the foreign nationals taken hostage at the gas plant.
A man from Fife and a father of two from Renfrewshire are also believed to have been among the foreign nationals involved.
At least one British national has been killed and Prime Minister David Cameron has said the country “should be prepared for bad news”.
One report on Algerian TV said two British workers were among four foreigners killed at the desert gas plant at In Amenas.
Other reports said more than ten Britons were still unaccounted for.
The Foreign Office said today the hostage crisis was “still ongoing” and is monitoring developments.
Mr Cameron, who cancelled a keynote speech he had been scheduled to make on Europe today, was due to chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee this morning as efforts continue to establish the full scale of the bloodshed.
Dismay at botched rescue bid
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has cut short a visit to Australia to return to the UK.
The Algerian rescue effort was launched early yesterday morning without consultation with the UK, to the dismay of Number 10.
Mr Cameron was informed that it was under way when he telephoned his Algerian counterpart yesterday morning despite having earlier asked to be kept fully updated.
Offers of British help had been declined.
Algerian communications minister Mohamed Said Belaid said the military operation succeeded in “neutralising a large number of terrorists and freeing a large number of hostages”.
“But unfortunately, we are sorry to say, there were some deaths and injuries,” he said.
“We do not yet have a definitive figure. As soon as we have it, we will make it public.”
There were unconfirmed reports that two Scots were among four people said to have escaped or been released from the plant.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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