Algeria siege: Japanese death toll rises to 9


TOKYO: Two more Japanese citizens have been confirmed to have died during a hostage crisis last week in Algeria, the Japanese government confirmed, bringing the total number to nine. One Japanese worker remains missing.

A plane bringing home the bodies of Japanese  killed in the gas plant siege left Algeria today, Tokyo said, as it was  reported a senior executive of the firm employing many of the dead was still  unaccounted for.

The victims worked for a Japanese engineering company, JGC Corp., at a natural gas plant in the Sahara Desert. Seven other Japanese workers for the company survived the hostage-taking.   

“Using violence is not forgivable whatever the cause,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday evening after confirming that officials found the bodies of the two Japanese among a group of unidentified victims. “We strongly condemn terrorist activities.”  

“It is extremely regrettable,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Thursday.  

Mitsunobu Fuchida, the older brother of a victim, arrived at Haneda airport on Thursday morning to await the return of his brother’s body.  

 “I just want to see him. I want to see him quickly,” he said.  

Authorities said they were unable to confirm the status of one missing Japanese national, as well as four foreign employees of JGC.  

At a news conference early Thursday, JGC spokesman Takeshi Endo said recovery efforts for the missing continue.  

“Our company will do all it can to ascertain the status of these five people,” Endo said.

Meanwhile, a seventh worker from the Philippines has been  confirmed killed in last week’s siege by Islamic militants of a remote natural  gas plant in Algeria, the foreign department in Manila said Thursday.

The remains were identified by his British employers, foreign affairs  spokesman Raul Hernandez told a news conference.

Manila on Monday said six Filipinos were killed and 12 survived the 72-hour  hostage drama in the north African desert.

“Most of them died of gunshot wounds and the effects of explosions,”  Hernandez said, without naming the Filipino fatalities.

Two other Filipinos remain missing while four more are in an Algerian  hospital recovering from injuries sustained either during the raid or their  subsequent rescue by Algerian security forces, Hernandez said.

Algeria has said 37 foreigners of eight different nationalities and an  Algerian were killed in the four-day siege, which ended on Saturday in a rescue  operation by security forces who captured three of the assailants. -- AP, AFP

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