Kidnappers demand release of Islamists held in Algeria

The armed group that took Western hostages in a deadly dawn attack in southern Algeria on Wednesday is demanding the release of 100 Islamists held in the country, a worker at the site told AFP.

"The kidnappers are demanding the release of 100 terrorists being held in Algeria, in exchange for their hostages," said the worker at the gas complex where 41 Westerners were seized, according to the militants, including seven Americans.

"(They) have demanded that these (detained) Islamists be taken to northern Mali," added the source, speaking by telephone.

Earlier, Algeria's Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia said that Algiers would not negotiate with the "terrorists," following the attack near the In Amenas gas field that also left two foreigners dead, including a Briton.

Meanwhile, a French catering company said that 150 of its Algerian employees were being held in the BP plant in Algeria where Al-Qaeda-linked militants claim to have taken 41 foreigners hostage.

It was not immediately clear if the catering staff were among Algerian workers who were, according to state news agency APS, released after the foreigners were seized.

Regis Arnoux, the executive chairman of CIS Catering, said the employees at the In Amenas gas field were being held against their will.

"They have not been allowed to leave the base," he said in an interview with the website of French newspaper the Journal du Dimanche.

"The information I have is that a group of around 60 terrorists from neighbouring countries attacked the base overnight. They took all the expatriates hostage, regardless of nationality, and tied them up.

"The Algerian staff are being held inside the site. The situation is very worrying.

"The Algerian army has surrounded the base, helicopters are flying over it. We fear the worst, there are many lives at stake."

  • Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future 3 hours ago
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does.

  • 919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day 4 hours ago
    919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day

    We've brought you the drive video of the $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder -- an 887-hp hybrid supercar with two electric motors working in harmony with a big 4.6-liter V-8. But how about this? Porsche's hybrid Le Mans racer -- the 919 Hybrid, sent to us by Kevin Leech. Get on board with electrification, folks. Because it's taking over the world.

  • Watch a man drive his three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway 10 hours ago
    Watch a man drive his three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway

    Some things in life are hard to explain, like why a dentist insists on asking you questions when you clearly can't respond. Or why we call pants "a pair" even though it's just one. Or how about this puzzler: Why a person would drive their Mustang along a Texas highway despite it missing a wheel? Life is full of little mysteries, I guess.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media.

  • Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name
    Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name

    General Moeldoko, the head of Indonesia’s Armed Forces, has clarified that he had not apologised for the naming of a warship after two Indonesian marines who had been involved in the 1965 MacDonald House bombing in Singapore.