Algerian Siege:34 Hostages dead by Algerian army airstrikes / Breaking News

Algerian army forces helicopters attack, dozens of hostages and captors has been killed.

Algerian helicopters have attacked a group of Mali Islamists militants held up in a Saharan gas facility, reportedly killing 34 hostages and 15 of their captors. The army moved in after over 50 captives, including dozens of foreigners, escaped.

A group of Islamists calling themselves the ‘Battalion of Blood’ raided a compound near an Algerian gas field on Wednesday, taking dozens hostages.

They also killed a British citizen and an Algerian in an assault on a bus.

The Islamists were reportedly Malian nationals, and are demanding that French forces cease their bombardment of Mali and withdraw from the country. They have also called on the Algerian government to allow them safe passage from the facility, an unnamed official security source told Reuters.

The UK condemned the killing of the British national and has called for caution in connecting the kidnappings with the French intervention in Mali.

“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,” said Foreign Minister William Hague in a statement.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that any request from the Algerian government for aid would be seriously considered by the UK.

French national being held hostage by the militants spoke to France 24 and confirmed that he was one of 150 hostages. The militants were “heavily armed,” and the hostages had been forced to put on “explosive belts,” he said.

He explained that the militants carried out simultaneous attacks on Wednesday morning, assaulting the gas station and rounding up hostages in the living quarters.

Another hostage, who identified himself as British, told Al Jazeera that the hostages were receiving “care and good treatment from the kidnappers.”

France  confirmed there are French nationals among the hostages and voiced support for the Algerian government, stating it had complete faith in their ability to resolve the situation.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also told the press that there were currently 1,400 French troops on the ground in Mali, and that they are battling rebel fighters north of Bamako. On Tuesday, Paris announced plans to deploy 2,500 troops – including French Foreign Legionnaires – into Mali, a former French colony.

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