Six Filipinos dead in Algeria siege, four missing: DFA

Posted at 01/21/13 2:27 PM


MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported on Monday that six Filipinos died in the hostage crisis in Algeria. 

In a press conference, Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez said their deaths “were a direct result of the hostage-taking incident, mostly gunshot wounds and effects of explosion.”

He said he does not have information if the six were part of those executed by the Al Qaeda-linked gunmen. “We have not had the chance to review this yet…The details have not yet been reported to us by the post.”

Four more Filipinos are unaccounted for, and four remain at the Al Azher clinic in Algiers, as of posting.

Hernandez said the wounded are now stable except for one who is in “serious condition” since his neck and spine have been affected.

He also said another four Filipinos are billeted in a hotel waiting for repatriation, and four others are already on their way home. Reports said they are arriving later Monday.

Hernandez clarified that the 39 Filipinos who arrived on Sunday are workers from nearby gas fields and not from the plant held hostage by the militants. 

“The DFA is now in the process of notifying the next of kin of the dead, including the shipment of their remains. We are also looking into the whereabouts of the four still unaccounted for,” he said. 

Four employees of the gas field are currently in the Philippines for a vacation.

The employer of the Filipino workers, Hernandez said, should help in the medical expenses and repatriation of their employees. 

“The director general of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has conveyed their deepest sympathies to the families and the Philippine government…He also emphasized…that they did everything to prevent the loss of lives,” he said.

Despite security threats in Algeria, Hernandez said a travel ban to Algeria is not in the offing. 

There are currently more than 1,780 Filipinos working in Algeria.

The Philippine government previously said it did not know if any Filipinos had been killed during the 72-hour siege at the In Amenas gas plant, deep inside the Sahara desert, that ended on Saturday.

Algeria's Ennahar television reported that the bodies of 25 hostages were found on Sunday by security forces combing through the plant, and that five hostage-takers had been captured alive.

But Algeria warned other nations to prepare for a higher body count, as Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal prepared to hold a news conference later Monday.

Dozens of hostages appear to have died. Survivors' photos seen by AFP showed bodies riddled with bullets, some with their heads half blown away by the impact of the gunfire.

Thirty-two kidnappers were also killed in the standoff, and the army freed 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners, Algeria's interior ministry said. -- with Agence France-Presse