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Algeria (and Beyond) Coverage: Hostage Situation Continues at Gas Plant

See also Mali, Algeria, and Beyond: A Beginner's Guide to the Bad Guys
Turkey Feature: 10,000s in Funeral Ceremony for Kurdish Activists "Peace Now!"
Syria Live Coverage: UN Human Rights Chief Calls for War Crimes Investigation
Friday's Algeria (and Beyond) Coverage: At Least 30 Hostages Killed in Rescue Attempt

1435 GMT: Egypt. A criminal court has invoked a Presidential amnesty and dismissed charges against 379 people accused of taking part in clashes with police.

Almost weeks of street fighting on downtown Cairo's Mohammed Mahmoud Street in November 2011 killed 42 people, most of them slain by security forces. The demonstrators were demanding a timetable for a military Supreme Council to hand over power and hold Presidential elections.

1425 GMT: Algeria. Seven foreign hostages have reportedly been killed in the final operation by Algerian forces against the kidnappers, 11 of whom were slain.

1340 GMT: Algeria. Algerian State media is reporting that the hostage crisis is over at the In Amenas gas plant, with 11 attackers killed by Algerian forces.

The reports claims that 16 foreign hostages --- including two Americans, two German, and a Portuguese ---- have been freed.

1020 GMT: Algeria. Reuters summarises measures by oil companies in Algeria, including evacuation of foreign nationals from some plants or movement of them closer to the Libyan border, and energy security measures in Libya and Egypt.

1014 GMT: Algeria. Two more employees of Norwegian energy firm Statoil have been "brought to safety" in Algeria, with six still missing at the In Amenas gas facility attacked by gunmen on Wednesday.

Chief Executive Helge Lund said, "We can never lose hope...bringing home our employees is our primary goal."

1006 GMT: Bahrain. Police with dogs moving yesterday to prevent large opposition marches in the capital Manama:

Despite the presence of the security forces, groups were able to rally in the city. Police used tear gas to disperse them, and 13 people were arrested.

0959 GMT: Mali. The US has dispatched about 100 military trainers to six nations contributing troops to a pan-African force that will deploy in Mali.

The initial American personnel will “discuss training and equipping and deployment needs of those countries in the interest of getting them ready to go into Mali,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The training missions in Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo, and Ghana are part of the preparations of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States, which authorised deployment in Mali last week.

0949 GMT: Yemen. Gunmen in the southeast have blown up an oil pipeline that transports about 8000 barrels per day to export terminals on the Gulf of Aden, suspending operations.

The unidentified assailants "planted an explosive device under the pipeline" overnight in the village of Rudum in Shabwa Province, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) from the Nushaymah export terminal, according to a local official.

The pipeline is operated by the Korea National Oil Co (KNOC), and transfers crude from oilfields in the Iyadh region, also in Shabwa. It and other lines have been repeatedly attacked, costing Yemen more than $4 billion in revenues between February 2011 and July 2012.

0917 GMT: Turkey. Police have arrested 85 people, including leftist lawyers, musicians, and human rights activists, in raids in seven cities against claimed supporters of the banned Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front.

Many of the 15 attorneys arrested are connnected to the Progressive Lawyers’ Association, which works with victims of torture and leftist prisoners.

0852 GMT: Mali. The US State Department has told dependents of American Embassy personnel in Bamako to leave the country.

In a travel warning issued Friday, the Department also advised Americans against all travel to Mali, warning of attacks and kidnappings of westerners, food shortages, loss of Government control in some areas, and the presence of militants linked to Al Qa'eda.

0645 GMT: Algeria. Attackers still hold an unknown number of foreign hostages at the In Amenas gas plant in the Algerian desert, three days after they raided the facility.

At least 18 assailants and 12 hostages have been killed in the initial assault and subsequent fighting with the Algerian military, including reported airstrikes that hit four jeeps in a convoy carrying some of the foreigners.

The gunmen are linked to the network of Mokhtar Belmokhtar --- accused of kidnap and smuggling in the border area between Algeria, Libya, and Mali. They said Friday they still at least seven hostages. An Algerian security official put their number at 10, while other officials said that the total number of people still being held was at least 30.

Reports yesterday claimed that seven to 10 attackers were holding out in a machine room and other parts of the central operations area of In Amenas. One report said the group was calling for a hostage swap, with Americans being exchanged for two prisoners held in America --- Omar Abdel-Rahman, serving a life sentence for conspiracy in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and a Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, imprisoned for 86 years for allegedly attacking her US millitary interrogators in Afghanistan.

Last night the death of the first American was confirmed. He was identified as Frederick Buttaccio. French officials also said one of their nationals had been slain.

"This is an extremely difficult and dangerous situation," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. 

"The United States extends our condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones in this brutal assault and we remain deeply concerned about those who remain in danger. Utmost care must be taken to preserve innocent life."

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