Oil giant BP experienced what it called a “security incident” at a gas field in Algeria, following reports Islamist militants seized five Japanese nationals, a French citizen and an Irish man from the facility today.
“We can confirm that there has been a security incident this morning at the In Amenas gas field in the eastern central region of Algeria. We have no more confirmed details at this time,” BP said in a statement.
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BP said UK authorities are aware of the incident. BP did not say whether foreigners were taken away from the facility, only that the company was “setting up a helpline for relatives.”
Diplomatic and local sources said earlier on Wednesday the militants had seized foreigners at the field.
The field, located close to the border with Libya, operates as a joint venture including BP, Norwegian oil firm Statoil and Algerian state company Sonatrach.
BP said the field was approximately 1,300 km from the capital, Algiers.
One official said the Algerian army had since surrounded the militants and their hostages and negotiations had started.
The Foreign Office in the UK said: “The British embassy in Algiers is aware of the incident and is liaising with local authorities.”
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DPA) confirmed a 36-year-old married man from Northern Ireland, travelling on an Irish passport, was one of the victims.
Japanese, Norwegian and French nationals were also part of the group.