From Time quoting AP (1/21/2013):
Inside Job, 2 Canadian Militants in Algeria Siege
(ALGIERS, Algeria) — The hostage-taking at a remote Algerian gas plant was carried out by 30 militants from across the northern swath of Africa and two from Canada, authorities said. The militants, who wore military uniforms and knew the layout, included explosives experts who rigged it with bombs and a leader whose final order was to kill all the captives.
The operation also had help with inside knowledge — a former driver at the plant, Algeria’s prime minister said Monday.
In all, 38 workers and 29 militants died, the Algerian prime minister said Monday, offering the government’s first detailed account of four days of chaos that ended with a bloody military raid he defended as the only way possible to end the standoff. Five foreigners are still missing.
“You may have heard the last words of the terrorist chief,” Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told reporters. “He gave the order for all the foreigners to be killed, so there was a mass execution, many hostages were killed by a bullet to the head.”
...All but one of the dead victims — an Algerian security guard — were foreigners. The dead hostages included seven Japanese workers, six Filipinos, three energy workers each from the U.S. and Britain, two from Romania and one worker from France.
The prime minister said three attackers were captured but did not specify their nationalities or their conditions or say where they were being held.
He said the Islamists included a former driver at the complex from Niger and that the militants “knew the facility’s layout by heart.” The vast complex is deep in the Sahara, 800 miles (1,300 miles) south of Algiers, with a network of roads and walkways for the hundreds of workers who keep it running.
The attackers wore military uniforms, according to state television, bolstering similar accounts by former hostages that the attackers didn’t just shoot their way in.
“Our attention was drawn by a car. It was at the gate heading toward the production facility. Four attackers stepped out of a car that had flashing lights on top of it,” one of the former hostages, Liviu Floria, a 45-year-old mechanic from Romania, told The Associated Press.
The militants had said during the standoff that their band included people from Canada, and hostages who had escaped recalled hearing at least one of the militants speaking English with a North American accent.
The Algerian premier said the Canadians were of Arab descent. He further said the militant cell also included men from Egypt, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia, as well as three Algerians. Officials in Canada could not confirm that any of the attackers were from there.
“The announcement of the Algerian prime minister is fine, but we need verification. It could be a forged document. We need to confirm,” said a Canadian official who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
...Moktar Belmoktar, who is believed to have orchestrated the attack, said in a statement over the weekend that the Algerian site was chosen after the country opened its airspace.
Sellal said negotiating was essentially impossible.
“Their goal was to kidnap foreigners,” he said. “They wanted to flee to Mali with the foreigners, but once they were surrounded they started killing the first hostages.”
He said the assault by Algerian special forces on the plant on Saturday that killed the last group of militants and hostages came after the kidnappers attempted to destroy the complex: “They led us into a real labyrinth, in negotiations that became unreasonable.”
(Full article at the link)
So they were negotiating. And it was (ostensibly) the Algerian consent to open its airspace to the French air force to bomb northern Mali that triggered the whole episode.
In Japanese tweets, I saw an astounding tweet by someone who effectively said JGC Corporation, Japanese plant engineering firm whose employees have been killed by the terrorists, deserves it because JGC has done nuclear plant engineering. When others were incensed by his remark, this person offered his excuse that he meant that the poor workers who were killed were like the workers at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, who were forced to work without being told of the danger.
What an insult to all - JGC, JGC workers, and Fuku-I workers.