American killed in Algeria hostage rescue, others survived
Houston, TX, United States (4E) – A Houston man was among the 23 foreigners reportedly killed during a military rescue of hostages held by terrorists at a gas facility in eastern Algeria on Saturday.
Fred Buttaccio, 58, of Katy suffered a heart attack during the rescue to become the first American fatality in the hostage crisis that began Wednesday, according to a Fox News report. The State Department confirmed the death of Buttaccio, who worked for the BP, a co-operator of the gas facility in In Amenas near the Libyan border.
American survivors were Mark Cobb of Corpus Christi and someone from Beaumont in Nederland, according to WFAA. Before the military raid, Cobb escaped from the kidnappers, who are members of the group called Masked Brigade headed by a jihadist named Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
Commenting on the hostage crisis in Washington, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will continue to work with partners in the fight against terrorists to prevent them from doing the same attack on the gas facility.
Five to six other Americans reportedly escaped from their captors. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in London, where he is visiting, that Washington is still trying to get from Algiers the exact number of Americans who were taken hostage.
Algerian security forces are still looking for bodies at the gas facility and clearing the area from mines planted by the terrorists in an attempt to blow up the complex. An Algerian official said the found bodies are being identified.
Algeria’s interior minister, Daho Ould Kablia, said all 32 militants, who seized nearly 800 workers of the facility, were killed during the rescue raid. Hundreds of Algerians were released before the military raid. Other hostages escaped or were killed by their captors during the rescue.
Meanwhile, the FBI is building a case against the terrorists while the State Department issued a travel warning to Algeria.