Algerian Forces Complete Hostage Rescue

ALGIERS, Algeria (January 17, 2013)--Special forces Thursday completed their operation to free hostages from a remote desert natural gas complex, Algeria's state news agency said.

The agency’s report gave no new toll for the number of dead among either the hostages or the kidnappers, who were described as a "multinational terrorist" group.

Earlier Algerian TV had said four foreign workers, two Britons and two Filipinos, died in the operation.

The militants said that dozens of hostages died in the assault, however.

Algeria's communications minister says his government regrets what he called a "few dead and wounded" from Thursday’s military assault on the Islamist militants who took the hostages Wednesday.

He said on Algerian radio, "An important number of hostages were freed and an important number of terrorists were neutralized."

Governments around the world expressed concern about the way Algeria tried to rescue the foreigners.

Japan's prime minister protested the raid, saying it "threatened the lives of the hostages."

A spokesman for Britain's prime minister says he wasn't informed of the raid in advance.

The White House said it's "concerned about reports of loss of life."

White House press secretary Jay Carney wouldn’t confirm the status of the Americans, or the reports that the U.S. had offered to help the Algerian government with its raid on the energy complex.

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