Briton, Norwegian killed in attack on Algeria oil field

Indo Asian News Service

Algiers, Jan 16 (IANS) A Briton and a Norwegian were killed Wednesday in an attack targeting an oil facility in Algeria's central province of Illizi, the official APS news agency reported.

The Norwegian national, who was the first victim in the attack, worked with British Petroleum (BP), Xinhua reported citing Norway's Bergens Tidende newspaper.

An armed group affiliated to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.

The armed group, Al Mouwaqiin Bi Dam (or "the Signatories by Blood"), claimed the detention of 41 foreign workers in the oil facility operated by BP and Algerian Sonatrach.

The foreign workers include American, French, British and Japanese nationals.

It said the operation was in response to Algeria's decision to open its airspace to French warplanes to fight extremist groups in Mali.

The Ennahar TV channel quoted a security source as saying that the militants required the release of their mates detained in Algerian prisons to swap the hostages.

The Algerian interior ministry earlier said "an armed terror group onboard three vehicles, intruded at 5 p.m. an oil facility of Sonatrach in Tigantourine, near In Amenas, hundreds of kilometres away from the border with Libya".

"The attack began by targeting a bus carrying the foreign workers which was leaving the oil facility toward the airport of In Amenas," the ministry statement said.

The ministry said that "after the attack, the terror group headed to the oil facility where it seized an undetermined number of foreign workers as hostages".