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52 Filipinos working in Algerian gas field accounted for

Presidential spokesperson refuses to comment on two reported deaths

Gulf News

Manila: Fifty-two Filipino workers who were held hostage alongwith hundreds of Algerians and foreigners by militants in Algeria have been accounted for and some of them were expected to be in the capital by Sunday afternoon. They were working in the gas field of Amenas, where on Wednesday Algerian militants sympathising with rebels in Mali, seized a number of foreign and Algerian workers. In the attempt to free the captives, two Filipino gas field workers had reportedly lost their lives.

Department of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez, in his twitter post on Sunday, said 39 of the Filipinos workers are expected to arrive at 4pm.

“So far, 52 OFWs [Overseas Filipino Workers] are accounted for. Our team in Algeria continues to coordinate with Algerian authorities and employers,” he said.

On Thursday, a rescue attempt was mounted by Algerian state forces resulted in freeing 537 Algerian hostages and 100 foreigners, including several dozen Filipinos.

Families of the Filipino hostages had been on tenterhooks since news of the hostage-taking broke out.At the presidential palace in Manila, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte welcomed reports about the safe release of the Filipinos.

“We’re happy to know they are safe and sound,” she was quoted as saying over government-run station, dzRB radio.

Valte, however, refused to comment on the two reported Filipino deaths in the rescue operation.

“The authorities there have been very strict about information going out,” she was quoted in reports as saying.

Hundreds of Filipino workers had been working in gas field projects in Algeria and other countries in North Africa, such as Libya.