US military aircraft evacuating some civilians from Algeria
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 18, 2013
STUTTGART, Germany — A U.S. military aircraft is transporting U.S. and other civilians caught up in the hostage situation in Algeria to a U.S. military facility in Europe, U.S. Africa Command said Friday.
“A USAF aero-evacuation aircraft is in the process of evacuating U.S. and other nations’ individuals from Algeria who were involved in the hostage event at a gas plant,” AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson said in a statement. “They will be flown to a U.S. facility in Europe. Due to force protection concerns we are unable to provide any information beyond that.”
AFRICOM expects to transport between 10 and 20 people, though it is unclear what their condition is, according to AFRICOM.
On Wednesday, Islamic militants stormed the gas plant, taking scores of hostages in the process. Details about the attack remain sketchy, with conflicting reports about casualties. On Thursday, Algerian forces stormed the facility as part of a rescue attempt. Accounts vary, but The Associated Press reports that dozens of workers from the plant remain unaccounted for. AFRICOM offered little detail about who was being transported or whether they were en route to the military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near Ramstein Air Base for medical treatment.
“However, we can say that protecting and securing U.S. citizens within our theater are primary concerns for U.S. Africa Command, and our forces stand ready to assist in any way possible to advance those efforts,” Benson said in the statement.