The Washington Times - January 17, 2013, 01:02PM

The White House doesn’t know whether American hostages at a natural gas field in Algeria are dead or alive and are trying to “seek clarity” from the Algerian government on their status.

“I can only say that we are deeply concerned about any loss of innocent life and are seeking clarity from the government of Algeria,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “…We are in contact with our Algerian partners. I just don’t have any details from those conversations.”


There have been some casualties involved in a Algerian army operation aimed at freeing the hostages taken by Islamist militants at the BP gas plant, according to the country’s state-run news agencies, and those reports also said some of the hostages have been freed.

Mr. Carney refused to say whether the militants who took the hostages and control of the gas field are affiliated with Al Qaeda.

“We certainly heard reports of people taking responsibility, but we have not been able to thus far confirm these claims,” he said.

A militant group claimed responsibility for taking the hostages at the BP natural gas field, saying it was an act of revenge for the North African nation’s support for France’s military operation against al Qaeda-linked rebels in Mali.

When asked whether the hostage situation in Algeria impacts U.S. willingness to assist France in Mali, Mr. Carney said, “I’m not sure that it does. We share the French goal of denying terrorists in the region a safe haven.”

He added that France has asked for logistical support, and the U.S. has “some unique airlift capability” and are providing intelligence support.