Five ‘lost in desert’ after fleeing siege

A SEARCH has been launched for five people who are feared lost in the Sahara Desert after fleeing the bloody siege of the In Amenas gas plant, Algerian officials have said.

Three Britons are missing and feared dead, but it is unclear whether they are among those now being sought.

Thirty-seven foreign workers and one Algerian were killed in the hostage-taking and subsequent siege, but many of the dead are yet to be identified.

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As well as the three missing, three Britons are confirmed dead. Two Scots are believed to have died.

Identifying bodies and bringing them home remains one of the UK government’s top priorities, Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons yesterday.

Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a National Security Council meeting yesterday afternoon, to discuss what further support the UK should offer France in Mali.

A spokesman for Algerian prime minister Abdemalek 
Sellal said he feared for anyone lost in the Sahara. “Are they dead? Did they attempt to flee the site after the attack like some other expatriates?” he said.

“Are they lost in the desert after taking a wrong turn? These are all questions we ask ourselves.”

Terrorists lay siege to the gas plant on Wednesday last week, with Algerian forces retaking the site on Saturday.

Kenneth Whiteside, 59, a father of two originally from Glenrothes, in Fife, was executed during the hostage-
taking, his brother confirmed.

Family friends of Carson Bilsland, 46, from Perthshire, have said he is also feared to have died.

The Foreign Office said it was unable to say whether any of the five believed to be lost in the desert were British.