First Published: 2018-01-16

Algeria gas plant workers mark five years since jihadist siege
Four-day siege by Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists left 40 dead as workers, including some survivors, gather around memorial to honour victims.
Middle East Online

At a ceremony the name of the victims were read out and a wreath laid after the recital of the Fatiha, the opening passage of the Koran

AMENAS - Workers at Algeria's In Amenas gas plant gathered Tuesday around a black marble memorial to mark five years since a deadly raid by Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists left 40 hostages dead.

All trace of the four-day siege -- which saw workers from Japan, the Philipines, Britain, Norway and the United States killed -- has long been cleared away at the sprawling desert facility 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) southeast of Algiers.

"They are 40 martyrs. I am full of emotion, I knew a lot of these people," said Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, the CEO of Algeria's Sonatrach, that runs the site with Norway's Statoil and Britain's BP.

The assault -- which left 29 attackers dead -- was claimed by one-eyed Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

At a ceremony the name of the victims were read out and a wreath laid after the recital of the Fatiha, the opening passage of the Koran.

Among the roughly 100 workers gathers were some who had survived the siege.

"We are going to mark five years since the attack and then go back to work," one worker who was held hostage for three days said.

"It is hard for us and our families are anxious. Some people cannot escape the memories and are still disturbed by them. But life continues."

Since the attack the number of expats working on site has been reduced dramatically and the firms running the remote facility insist security has been ramped up.

To access the plant -- just 80 kilometres from the border with chaos-riven Libya -- you have to pass through several checkpoints and series of barriers.

There have been several international probes into the attack, which was claimed as revenge for French operations in Mali.

Four men are facing trial in Algiers over the raid.

The suspected masterminds, including Belmokhtar, have not been caught.

 

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Eastern Ghouta violence

US declares readiness to talk Mideast peace

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Blockaded Gaza Strip forced to pump sewage into sea

African migrants start hunger strike over Israel expulsion

Three militiamen killed in Libya car bomb attack

Russia denies Ďgroundlessí accusations of role in Ghouta killings

Turkey says whoever helps YPG is 'legitimate target'

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terrorist cell

Turkey urged to end gas standoff with Cyprus

PKK attack near Iraq kills 2 Turkish soldiers

Netanyahu confidant to testify against him

Iran emergency teams recover bodies from plane crash site

Ten dead in more Syrian regime strikes on East Ghouta

Bahrain activist sentenced to 5 years for Yemen tweets

Lebanese president makes landmark visit to Iraq

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israelís gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon