January 19, 2013 / 2:51 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Fewer than 10 Britons missing in Algeria -Hague

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LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Most British nationals caught up in the hostage crisis at a gas complex in Algeria are now safe although the fate of fewer than 10 of them remains unknown, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Saturday.

“As of now, there are fewer than 10 British nationals at risk or unaccounted for, but that of course means that we must continue to prepare ourselves for bad news,” Hague said in televised remarks.

Hague said he had just spoken to his Algerian counterpart to stress the need for accurate and up-to-date information about the unfolding crisis at the desert complex.

“I‘m happy to say that we now have consular staff on the ground at In Amenas. They are already assisting British nationals there. Our ambassador is on the way there with further staff,” he said.

“We have a team at Hassi Messaoud, the normal point for entering and exiting this area,” he added.

Hague said Prime Minister David Cameron would talk to the Algerian premier Abdelmalek Sellal later on Saturday.

“This has been and remains an Algerian operation,” he said.

“This whole incident underlines the scale and ruthlessness of the terrorist threat that we and other nations face. We underline our resolve to deal with that and to defeat such terrorism.” (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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