37 foreigners killed: Algerian PM

Japan suffers highest casualties; victims came from eight nations

In his first official tally of the deadly scope of Algerian hostage crisis, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal Monday said the known death toll among the foreign captives had risen steeply from 23 to 37, and that five additional foreigners remained unaccounted for.

In a televised news conference, Sellal also said 29 militants were killed and three were captured alive during the four-day ordeal that terrorized a remote Algerian gas field refining site. Two of the attackers were Canadian, he contended.

The prime minister asserted that the attackers had come from northern Mali, adding that they had crossed into Algeria through its eastern border with Libya, which is much closer to the refining site.

He corroborated assertions made by other Algerian officials, and accounts from freed hostages themselves, that the militants had intended to destroy the gas complex and had booby-trapped some hostages with explosives.

In all, he said, 790 workers were on the site, including 134 foreigners of 26 nationalities, when it was first seized by a heavily-armed militant band in one of the most brazen assaults in years.

Algerian officials had been forecasting that the tally of foreign dead would rise from a preliminary estimate of 23, a concern that was reinforced by reports that a significant number of hostages from Japan and the Philippines had been killed at the site. On Monday, the Algerian prime minister said the dead came from eight different nations, without specifying which ones. One Algerian had been killed too.

An Obama administration official Monday said two more Americans were killed along with one person reported earlier, bringing the final US death toll to three. The deceased Americans were identified as Victor Lynn Lovelady and Gordon Lee Rowan, the official said.

Sellal was more specific about the attackers, telling the news conference that they had come from Egypt, Canada, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia, although it was unclear how he knew for sure. Algerian officials have been saying that few, if any, of the attackers were believed to have been Algerian.

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