Algeria claims militant hostage crisis is over

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by CBS News/AP

KMOV.com

Posted on January 17, 2013 at 6:51 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 17 at 5:39 PM

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Algeria's state news agency says that special forces have completed their operation to free hostages from a remote desert natural gas complex.

The report gave no new toll for the number of dead among either the hostages or the kidnappers, who were described as a "multinational terrorist" group.

Earlier Algerian TV had said that four foreign workers, two Britons and two Filipinos, died in the operation.

Earlier on Thursday, the militants themselves said that dozens had died in the assault.

A diplomatic source confirmed to CBS News that the Algerian military had a plan to retake the facility and that there had been casualties among both the terrorists and hostages, including multiple deaths.

A British security source, citing a contact close to the scene, told CBS News "that the Algerians were firing from helicopters at anything that moved," but could not confirm any deaths.

Meanwhile, an unarmed American Predator drone arrived over the gas plant late Thursday afternoon, giving the U.S. its first independent look at the situation, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

Martin also reports that the Algerians said they didn't want any U.S. military assistance.

An administration official said it's unclear where the remaining hostages or the hostage-takers were and that the situation is still unfolding, CBS Radio News correspondent Cami McCormick reports.

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