One American has died in the Algerian hostage crisis, according to Associated Press sources.
The State Department confirmed earlier Friday that Americans are still being held hostage at the Algerian gas factory seized by Islamists earlier this week, though the number of hostages being held is unclear. United States officials said they will not participate in any kind of exchange with the terrorists to free the Americans.
“The United States does not negotiate with terrorists,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a Friday press briefing.
At least 20 foreigners remain in captivity or unaccounted for at the site following a military operation carried out by Algerian forces to take back the facility on Thursday. That operation, Algerian officials say, freed 650 from the gas factory, including 100 foreigners.
The raid also resulted in the death of 30 hostages and 18 captors, according to Algerian officials.
Despite that operation taking place Thursday, there are still few answers about the whereabouts, number, or condition of the hostages, including the Americans held captive there. Some reports indicate military action concluded Thursday, while British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday Algerians were still pursuing terrorists.
The State Department confirmed earlier this week that Americans were among those taken hostage at the In Amenas, Algeria, site, but did not disclos the numbers of hostages nor their identities. Reports at the time claimed seven Americans were among those taken hostage. U.S. officials told CNN Friday that as few as three Americans could be among the hostages still being held.
Sec. of State Hillary Clinton spoke briefly about the ongoing hostage crisis Friday afternoon.
“The United States extends our condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones in this brutal assault, and we remain deeply concerned about those who remain in danger,” Clinton said.
“I want to underscore again that the utmost care must be taken to preserve innocent life,” she said.
Clinton did not specify whether Americans had died at the site, nor did she offer any other details about the military operation; she did speak briefly about expanding “counter-terror cooperation” with Algerian and other regional authorities “going forward.”