MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday confirmed that six Filipinos died in the hostage crisis in Algeria and four others are still missing.
In a press conference, DFA spokesperson Undersecretary Raul Hernandez made the announcement but declined to give details on the identities of the male fatalities.
Hernandez said that based on reports received from the Philippine government’s team in Algeria and the country’s embassy in London, 26 Filipinos worked at the In Amenas gas plant that was attacked by al-Qaida-linked gunmen last week. The list was confirmed by Algerian Foreign Ministry and the employers of Filipino workers there, he said.
He said that 12 Filipinos were accounted for and confirmed alive. He said that of the 12, four were being treated in Al Azhar hospital in Algiers, four were in Mercure Hotel awaiting repatriation, and four have been repatriated or were on their way home.
“The DFA is in the process of notifying the kin of the six confirmed dead and coordinating the shipment of their remains and we are also locating the whereabouts of the four unaccounted for,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez, however, could not clearly state the circumstances of how the six Filipinos died but said that “it was the direct result of the hostage taking incident in the area and mostly by gunshot wounds and the effects of the explosion.”
When pressed by reporters whether the deaths of the Filipinos were caused by the execution from the Islamists or the result of the military action, Hernandez said that they did not have specific information but “the information is they died in the facility.”
He said he could not also give the specific number but most of the Filipino workers were employed by the Japanese engineering firm JGC Corporation.
He added that the director general of the Asia Pacific Affairs of the Algerian ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed on behalf of the Algerian government its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and to the Philippine government.
“He also emphasized to our Charge d’ Affaires that his government took the military action and did everything possible to prevent the further loss of life and when it was confirmed that the terrorists had started executing some of the foreign hostages,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez noted that the four Filipinos wounded and being treated in the hospital were generally in stable condition. “One was in serious condition because he was suffering from wounds in the neck and spine,” he said.
He said that the DFA was coordinating with Algerian authorities for the repatriation of the bodies of the fatalities and the repatriation of the Filipinos who were accounted for.
Asked whether the country was planning to set travel advisories and ban to the area following the incident, he said that there were no such discussions as of the moment.
Earlier reports had noted that the death toll from the siege had risen to more than 80 as Algerian forces searching the area for explosives found more bodies but that it was not clear whether they were hostages or militants.
An earlier Algerian ministry count also noted that 23 foreigners and Algerians were killed after al-Qaida-linked gunmen began their attack on the In Amenas gas plant deep in the Sahara desert on Wednesday. It also said that 32 kidnappers were also killed during the siege, and special forces were able to free 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreigners.