BELFAST Jan 17 A hostage who escaped unharmed
from Islamist militants in Algeria on Thursday said the Algerian
army bombed four jeeps carrying fellow captives and probably
killed many of them, his brother told Reuters.
Irishman Stephen McFaul, who was among dozens of Western and
local captives seized by militants at an Algerian natural gas
plant on Wednesday, told his family that he survived because he
was on the only one of five jeeps not hit by Algerian bombs,
according to his brother Brian.
"They were moving five jeep-loads of hostages from one part
of the compound. At that stage they were intercepted by the
Algerian army. The army bombed four out of five of the trucks
and four of them were destroyed," Brian McFaul said.
"The truck my brother was in crashed and at that stage
Stephen was able to make a break for his freedom," he said. "He
presumed everyone else in the other trucks was killed."
Brian McFaul said he did not speak to Stephen directly, but
got an account from Stephen's wife Angela after she spoke to
him. The hostages had their mouths taped and explosives hung
from around their necks, McFaul added.
Thirty hostages and at least 11 Islamist militants were
killed on Thursday when Algerian forces stormed the desert gas
plant in a bid to free many dozens of captives, an Algerian
security source said.
Western governments were unhappy at having been kept in the
dark by Algeria before the raid and its bloody result.
Two Japanese, two Britons and a French national were among
at least seven foreigners killed, the source told Reuters. Eight
of the dead hostages were Algerian. The nationalities of the
rest, along with perhaps dozens more who escaped, were unclear.