For readers just joining our live coverage of the hostage crisis in Algeria, here’s a brief recap of how the standoff developed:

Militants believed to be led by a prominent al-Qaeda-linked figure raided a gas facility in eastern Algeria early Wednesday morning, taking dozens of foreign workers and hundreds of Algerian workers hostage. The hostages reportedly included British, Irish, French, Malaysian, Japanese, Romanian, Norwegian and American nationals, as well as Algerians.

The Algerian military mounted an operation at the site on Thursday, ignoring a request from British Prime Minister David Cameron that any such action be coordinated with the UK. Both hostages and their captors have reportedly been killed. Some foreigners are still being held as prisoners at the site. Hundreds of Algerian hostages appear to have been set free.

The Algerian government has denied an account by Mauritania’s news service that said that dozens of foreign hostages had been killed.

The militants, who have spoken to ANI news service in Mauritania, said the attack was in response to French strikes in Mali that began on Friday 11 January, although the scope of the gas plant raid led to speculation that it had been planned earlier.

The gas field, called Tigantourine, by the village of In Amenas, is near the Libyan border (map), on the opposite side of Algeria from Mali. The Amenas field is operated in partnership between the Algerian state oil company, Sonatrach; BP; and Norway’s Statoil.

The White House has convened an interagency meeting on the situation, CNN reported. The leaders of the United States, Britain and France have spoken on the phone about the crisis.

Fears for hostages as Algeria attacks gas complex – live updates – The Guardian
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