Ongoing Algeria hostage situation

Prime Minister David Cameron today updated Parliament on the ongoing hostage situation in Algeria. You can read the full statement here.

Priority remains the safety of British nationals involved, the repatriation of those killed and the evacuation of the wounded and freed hostages.

In his statement to the House, David Cameron said that last night the number of British citizens at risk was less than 30 but that authorities now know that the number at risk is now ‘quite significantly reduced’.

Gas installation attacked

The Prime Minister explained that in the early hours of Wednesday, terrorists attacked a gas installation run by BP, the Norwegian company Statoil and the Algerian company Sonatrech, in In Amenas in South East Algeria.

The group is believed to have been operating under Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a criminal terrorist and smuggler, who has been operating in Mali and in the region for a number of years, and who was formerly affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Maghreb.

According to latest information, terrorists first attacked two buses en route to the Amenas airfield before attacking the residential compound and the gas facility at the installation.

The Prime Minister said that the assault ‘appears to have been large, well co-ordinated and heavily armed’.

Two of those travelling in the convoy to the airfield were killed, including one British national.

A number of other workers were taken hostage by terrorists in separate locations. Hostages included British nationals, along with nationals of at least seven other countries as well as Algerians.

On Thursday morning the Algerian forces mounted an operation which is now complete, but terrorists are still being pursued in other areas of the site.

UK government response

The Prime Minister has been chairing meetings of COBR – the group which leads the government’s response in emergency situations – since Wednesday.

Today David Cameron said that the UK will continue to support Algeria in their fight against terrorists:

“From the outset I have [been] clear about our implacable opposition to terrorism and said that we will stand with the Algerians in their fight against these terrorist forces.”

More information

Update on situation and meeting with Leon Panetta, on January 18.

Read David Cameron’s statement, given on January 17.

Read updated Algeria travel advice on the Foreign Office website. On Twitter? Follow @foreignoffice, @UKinAlgeria and @MartynRoper (the British Ambassador to Algeria).

Read the latest statement by Foreign Secretary William Hague.

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