Monday, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal announced that a Canadian citizen led the band of Islamist terrorists who slaughtered 37 international hostages, including two Canadians, at an Algerian desert gas plant last week.
Tuesday morning, Canadian officials had neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, saying instead that there is an investigation underway, according to an International Business Times report. Meanwhile, in an effort to quell fears of foreign workers and commercial interests, Sellal says Algeria will never succumb to terrorism or allow al Qaeda to establish a "Sahelistan" power base in the arid northwest African region. According to Sellal, a Canadian citizen he called Chedad, a common Arab surname in the region, was killed along with 28 other armed terrorists. Chedad had "coordinated" the attack according to officials. Three terrorists were taken alive and remain in custody. Some reports claim there were two Canadian militants involved in the mass murders. Slain hostages as named by various host governments include three Americans, seven Japanese, six Filipinos and three Britons. Many others from Britain, Norway and elsewhere remain unaccounted for. Sellal said that of the 37 dead hostages, seven remain unidentified, while a further five foreigners are still missing. Many of the hostages were executed by the Islamic militants with a shot to the head and many were burned beyond recognition during a failed Algerian military rescue effort that lasted for days. According to the U.S. State Department in a report released Monday by the Associated Press the Americans killed were Victor Lynn Lovelady, Gordon Lee Rowan and Frederick Buttaccio. Lovelady hailed from Nederland, Texas and Buttacio is from Houston, however a hometown for Rowan was not released. About 700 Algerians and 100 other foreigners survived the terrorist attack. The Algerian military and authorities have been roundly criticized for leading botched rescue raids and for spotty reporting of the Islamic terrorist attack. "These bodies are difficult to identify. They could be the bodies of foreign hostages or Algerians or terrorists," one Algerian spokesman said. Filipino survivor Joseph Balmaceda said gunmen used him for cover: "Whenever government troops tried to use a helicopter to shoot at the enemy, we were used as human shields." Another Briton, Garry Barlow, called his wife from within the site before he was killed and said: "I'm sat here at my desk with Semtex strapped to my chest," Reuters reported. On Thursday a small group of hostages died when Algerian helicopters rocketed jeeps being used by militants to move them around inside the complex. The Algerian petrol plant was operated by British firm BP, Statoil of Norway and Sonatrach of Algeria and employs hundreds of workers including many foreign employees.