The Algerian army has surrounded a gas plant in the east of the country where Islamist militants claim to be holding 41 foriegn workers hostage.
British, French, Japanese, American and Norwegian nationals are involved.
A British national and an Algerian were killed when the In Amenas facility was stormed on Wednesday morning.
Algeria’s Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia says they want to leave the region and then the country, taking the hostages with them. “But as far as that goes, I can tell you the algerian government is not going to accept it,” he added.
The hostage-takers are said to be Algerian and led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar. He was a senior commander of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb before leaving to set up his own group at the end of last year.
“These events are not unconnected to the operation that we in France are undertaking, as well as all the African countries an all those who are participating in what we call the “Misma” or international mission to support Mali, whose aim is for Mali to regain its territorial integrity as soon as possible.” said French President Francois Hollande.
However, some reports contradict this claim, saying the call is for 100 Islamist prisoners to be freed from jail. The hostages are being held in one wing of the plant’s living quarters, which the Algerian Army has surrounded.