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Algeria's state news service says about 60 foreign hostages remain unaccounted for in the standoff with Islamist militants now entering its third day.

The report also says special forces have resumed negotiations after an assault Thursday at the natural gas facility in the Sahara in eastern Algeria.

Here is a live update of developments:

12:08 p.m. ET: Algerians who were freed by Algerian troops on Thursday were debriefed in Algiers after being flown out of the isolated desert facility, the French magazine Le Point reports.

The magazine says the Algerian witnesses told the authorities that the kidnappers arrived in a pickup at around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, killing a company employe at the gate as well as two other people.

The Algerians said there were between 18 and 30 mlitants, mostly Africans and Saharan Algerians, along with two foreigners, one French and one northern European. The latter, according to one witness, was called "Norwegian" by the kidnappers.

The witnesses reported that the captors held them at gunpoint using Kalashnikovs, rocket launchers and explosives.

According to their statements, the Algerians were separated from the rest of the hostages, who were described as mostly Japanese. They said the Algerians were kept inside the facility and the foreigners were taken outside.

The witnesses reported that at least seven hostages were killed by terorrists. In addition, they said, 30 Algerians who were unable to flee when the soldiers swept in were killed.

11:42 a.m. ET: A French hostage tells Europe 1 that he hid under his bed for 40 hours before he was rescued by Algerian soldiers.

Alexandre Berceraux, an employee of CIS Catering at the gas complex, says the initial attack by militants caught everyone by surprise.

"I heard an enormous amount of gunfire. The alarm telling us to stay where we were was going off. I didn't know if it was a drill or if it was real," he tells Europe 1. "Nobody expected this. The site was protected. There were soldiers in place."

"I had a bit of food, a bit to drink; I didn't know how long it would last," Berceraux says.

He was rescued Thursday by men, dressed in green, that he believed to be Algerian soldiers.

"I saw some of my colleagues with them, otherwise I would never have emerged," he says.

He says three British men hid in a drop ceiling in the restaurant storeroom. He said soldiers also rescued a Scottish man, who had been injured, and a Frenchman, from the room.

11:31 a.m. ET: According to Le Monde, Radio France Internationale (RFI) and France 24, citing Algerian authorities, report that a new attack is in progress involving "7 to 10 assailants" who are holed up in an engine room with weapons and explosives and are threatening "to blow everything up." The report says that gas to the platform has been cut off as a precaution.

11:22 a.m. ET: The number of hostages still being held remains unclear. Reuters reports that about 60 foreigners are still being held hostage by Islamist militants at the gas plant, while the state Algeria Press Service says more than 100 of 132 foreign hostages have been freed, according to the AP.

10:23 a.m. ET: The Algerian newspaper Al Watan says a militant commando captured by Algerian special forces told them under "enhanced interrogation" that 32 militants were involved in the initial attack, the French newspaper Le Monde reports.

10:12 a.m. ET: The Mauritanian ANI news agency says the militants who took over the gas facility say they are demanding the release of Egyptian Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman and Pakistani Aafia Siddiqui from U.S. jails. The agency reports that the militants plan to release a video outlining the offer.

9:29 a.m. ET: The French news agency AFP, citing the Algerian national agency APS, says the kidnappers have proposed to exchange hostages for Islamist prisoners held in the United States.

9:19 a.m. ET: The British Foreign Office and Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide say they believe the hostage standoff is continuing. "Parts of the plant are under Algerian authorities' control, and other parts are not. This information is changing by the hour," tells the BBC.




Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: LIVE: Fate of scores of hostages in Algeria unclear

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