Palace still can't confirm casualties in Algeria

Posted at 01/20/2013 1:54 PM | Updated as of 01/20/2013 8:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Malacanang still doesn’t have information whether Filipinos are included in the number of casualties in the hostage drama in Algeria that ended Sunday (Manila time).

In a dzRB interview, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said: “Nagkukumahog pa rin kami para ikumpirma kung may mga nakasamang Pinoy. (We’re still having a hard time confirming if there are Pinoys included in the number of casualties). The authorities there have been very strict.”

An Agence France Presse report said Algerian troops stormed the In Amenas facility, which Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen held hostage starting middle this week. The siege ended in the death of 23 foreigners and Algerians. A number of which were executed by their captors.

Authorities said the militants lost 32 of their colleagues, while forces were able to free "685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners.”

Foreign countries were supposedly not informed of the planned siege.

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said 34 Filipinos have been saved from the crisis and are now waiting for repatriation. Valte said they are now en route to Madrid, where they will wait for the next steps in their return back to the country.

“We’re happy to note that they are safe and sound. They’re physically well and safe,” she said.