ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerian bomb squads scouring a gas plant where Islamist militants took dozens of foreign workers hostage found “numerous” new bodies on Sunday as they searched for explosive traps left behind by the attackers, a security official said, a day after a bloody raid ended the four-day siege of the remote desert refinery.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the bodies were badly disfigured and difficult to identify.
“The bodies could be either Algerian or foreign hostages,” he said.
Algerian special forces stormed the natural gas complex in the Sahara desert on Saturday to end the standoff, and the government said all 32 militants were killed. Earlier Sunday, Algeria’s chief government spokesman said he feared the toll of hostages – which stood at 23 on Saturday – would rise as the special forces teams finished their search.
He said the militants came from six countries and were armed to cause maximum destruction. Sonatrach, the Algerian state oil company running the Ain Amenas site along with BP and Norway’s Statoil, said the entire refinery had been mined.
“They had decided to succeed in the operation as planned, to blow up the gas complex and kill all the hostages,” said Communications Minister Mohamed Said, speaking on a state radio interview.
The American government had warned that there were credible threats of more kidnapping attempts on Westerners.