The Algerian hostage crisis will remain the Government's “top priority” until every British national at the BP gas plant is accounted for, Foreign Secretary William Hague vowed today.
Around 10 UK workers at the remote desert complex are thought still to be "at risk" as Algerian special forces continue to hunt the site for the remaining terrorists.
The Algerian state news agency APS reported that 12 foreign and Algerian workers and 18 Islamist militants had been killed in fighting after troops stormed the plant at In Amenas on Thursday.
Details remain sketchy but the figures suggest that around a dozen of the original group of 30 heavily armed terrorists could still be holed up at the complex - possibly still holding hostages.
Mr Hague, who returned early from a visit to Australia, was due to chair a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergencies committee, as officials in Whitehall continued to monitor developments closely.
"Will remain our top priority until every British national is accounted for," the Foreign Secretary wrote on his Twitter feed.
"My thoughts are also with the families of everyone affected, particularly those still waiting for news of their loved ones."
APS reported that around 100 of the 132 foreign workers at the site had been freed along with 573 locally employed staff.
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