Andersonstown man kidnapped in Algeria

By Francesca Ryan

A West Belfast man has been kidnapped by Islamic extremists in Algeria.

The Andersonstown man is among up to 20 workers kidnapped by a group linked to al Qaeda at a gas field in Algeria.

It is understood the 36-year-old was among Irish, British, Japanese, Norwegian and French nationals who were taken captive yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Two people were reportedly killed in the attack on the facility in Amenas, close to the border with Mali.  The hostages are being kept in a compound by their abductors and it is believed there have been injuries sustained among the workers.

It is believed the local man was travelling on an Irish passport and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs is providing assistance in the matter.  They have appealed to all media to refrain from naming the man.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore yesterday called for his immediate release.

“The Consular Assistance unit in the Department is providing consular assistance to the family and are in close contact with its international partners and a wide range of other contacts in order to establish the facts of the situation,” he said. “At this stage, the identity and motives of the kidnappers is unknown.

“The government stands ready to use all the resources available to us to ensure that our citizen is released as soon as possible.  I would ask that the family be allowed privacy at this difficult time.”

The attack comes as French ground forces are preparing to engage Islamist militants in Algeria’s southern neighbour, Mali.

Algeria has been allowing French aircraft to use its air space to attack targets in Mali.

The militants, who call themselves the Khaled Abul Abbas Brigade, said they had travelled from northern Mali to launch yesterday’s attack.

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