AP: Katy man dies in Algerian hostage standoff

January 19, 2013 8:22:16 AM PST
The U.S. Department of State has confirmed an American died in the hostage crisis in Algeria, and the Associated Press says the victim is from the Houston area.

There's still so much uncertainty as to what has transpired over the past three days at the natural gas facility that's under attack by terrorists in Algeria.

But on Friday, the State Department issued a statement saying, "We can confirm the death of U.S. citizen Frederick Buttaccio in the hostage situation in Algeria. We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Out of respect for the family's privacy, we have no further comment."

Officials did not explain how Buttaccio died. He was 58.

We know that an Algerian military rescue attempt went wrong and that multiple news agencies have reported dozens of the hostages may have been killed in that botched effort.

The latest reports seem to suggest there were as many as 650 hostages but the vast majority were Algerian and were freed, leaving fewer than 100 hostages.

How many of those hostages survived an overnight raid by the Algerian military or escaped is still unknown.

"I do believe that it was well-coordinated and planned attack. It wasn't a spontaneous event. Just based upon how it seemed that the terrorist group knew where the buildings were and the different facilities inside the BP compound," Poe.

Poe is the chairman of the House Terrorism sub-committee and Foreign Affairs committee. He says at least four Texans were there when the Algerian military raided a compound partly operated by BP. Buttaccio was one of them.

Eyewitness News has confirmed another is from south Texas and another from Nederland.

"Because of its remoteness, it took law enforcement, our military, awhile to get there. The United States did offer any assistance to the Algerian government at the outset of this operation and that was rejected by the Algerian government," said Poe.

The Congressman has a promise for Buttaccio's family.

"The United States must follow up and make sure that these terrorists are held accountable for taking the lives of Americans," Poe said.

Given the remote location of the natural gas facility, it is still unclear just how many hostages remain -- if any -- and how many people, both militants and hostages, were killed during a bloody, botched raid by the Algerian military.

"This is a large and complex site, and they are still pursuing terrorists and possibly some of the hostages in other areas of the site," British Prime Minister David Cameron said.

"This is an act of terror," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

We do know that at least five of the reported 10 Americans held hostage are safe. They escaped, along with an Irish worker. And while the state department admits more Americans are still being held, it will not confirm how many there are.

"Our focus is 100 percent on the safety and welfare of those people and their families," BP Vice President Peter Maher said.

Some of those freed hostages are now sharing a little about their ordeal.

"Very, very relieved to be out, obviously I am,," a freed Scottish hostage said. "I feel bad that some colleagues are still there at the moment."

"I feel safe at the moment but I wont feel hundred percent happy until I am back in the UK. I just want to see my family and I'll be happy. My heart goes out to the guys still there and hopefully they can all go home safe because at the end of the day, it's only work. No one should have to go through that," another one said.

Late Friday afternoon, BP issued a statement about the latest developments:

"The serious situation at the In Amenas site in Eastern Algeria remains ongoing. The situation remains unclear and BP continues to seek updates from the authorities.

"BP's priority is the safety and security of our people. On early Wednesday morning we mobilized our full emergency response system, with teams on the ground in Algeria and in the UK working with the situation and liaising with other parties involved. We are in close contact with the UK government and colleagues in Statoil, in Sonatrach and in the companies that are contractors to the joint venture.

"There is a small number of BP employees at In Amenas whose current location and situation remain uncertain. BP is working with the Algerian government and authorities to confirm their status. We do not intend to publicly comment on details of the number, nationalities or identities of these staff.

"BP is in direct contact with the families of all of those staff affected, offering support and providing confirmed information as we can. "Supporting our colleagues and their families at a time of such extreme concern is essential, and we are seeking to support them in every way we can," said Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive.

"Overnight BP began the staged process of bringing non-essential workers out of Algeria as a precautionary and temporary measure.

"Three flights left Algeria yesterday, carrying a total of eleven BP employees alongside several hundred staff from other companies. The first flight arrived in London yesterday afternoon. The second two flights landed in Palma in Majorca overnight and staff on these planes are expected to transfer on to final destinations during the course of the day. A fourth plane is expected to transport further staff out of the country today and we will arrange further flights as necessary."


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