Quantcast
Latest Stories

Hostages were ‘human shields’ in Algeria – Filipino survivor


Joseph Balmaceda, one of the four Filipino oil field workers who was wounded but survived the terrorist attacks of an oil field in Algeria, talks about his ordeal shortly upon arrival at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Manila, Philippines Monday Jan. 21, 2013. In a separate briefing by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Spokesman Raul Hernandez said six Filipino workers were killed and four more are still unaccounted for. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines- Islamic militants used foreign hostages as human shields to stop Algerian troops aboard helicopters from strafing them with gunfire, a Filipino survivor of the four-day bloodbath recounted Monday.

Father-of-four Joseph Balmaceda said he saw one Japanese hostage draped with explosives, while he and others had their hands bound with cable ties, during the ordeal at the In Amenas gas plant in the Sahara Desert that ended Saturday.

“Whenever government troops tried to use a helicopter to shoot at the enemy, we were used as human shields,” a clearly stressed Balmaceda told reporters shortly after arriving back in Manila.

“We were told to raise our hands. The government forces could not shoot at them as long as we were held hostage.”

Balmaceda, nursing abrasions to his face and a loss of hearing, said he was the only survivor out of nine hostages who were aboard a van that exploded, apparently from C-4 explosives that the militants had rigged to the vehicle.

He said two militants were transferring the nine hostages to the central facility of the gas plant, but the bomb went off during a clash with Algerian security forces.

“The only thing left of the car was the back portion of the Land Cruiser,” said Balmaceda, 42.

“I was the only one who survived because I was sandwiched between two spare tyres. That is why I am still here and can talk to you.”

Balmaceda said the two militants driving the vehicle were also killed.

“But (other) hostage-takers were firing at me. It meant there were other terrorists,” he said.

“So I crawled about 300 metres to where the government forces were. And when I reached them I fainted. When I woke up I was in the hospital.”

The Al-Qaeda-linked “Signatories in Blood” group said it attacked the gas plant in retaliation for a French military operation to evict Islamists from neighbouring Mali.

Most hostages were freed on Thursday in a first Algerian rescue operation, which was initially viewed by foreign governments as hasty, before the focus of public condemnation turned on the jihadists.

Balmaceda said the incident in which the vehicle exploded occurred on the second day of the siege, apparently during the first rescue operation.

The crisis ended on Saturday with a final assault by Algerian troops.

Dozens of foreigners are believed to have died during the siege, although authorities have yet to give a definite figure.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said earlier Monday that six Filipinos had been confirmed killed, and four were missing.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Algeria hostage crisis , Features , Global Nation , Joseph Balmaceda , ofws

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

    MAMILI KA MAMATAY KA SA BOMBA SA ALGERIA O MAMATAY KA SA GUTOM SA PILIPINAS



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Pope John XXIII launched Vatican II and then some
  • US ‘closely watching’ for signs of N.Korea nuclear test
  • Anti-Obama protesters clash with police in Manila
  • Lacson: Number of pork-tainted senators could form quorum
  • Anti-Obama protesters clash with police in Manila
  • Sports

  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
  • David Moyes out as Manchester United manager
  • Nadal to face fellow Spaniard at Barcelona Open
  • Defensive Chelsea holds Atletico in scoreless draw
  • Lifestyle

  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  • Safety in online buying and selling
  • Entertainment

  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Summer movie preview: Bay reboots ‘Transformers’
  • Business

  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • $103M Vista Land bonds tendered for redemption
  • Oil slips to $102 as US crude supplies seen rising
  • SC stops Meralco power rate hike anew
  • Technology

  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • New York police Twitter campaign backfires badly
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  • China, rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
  • Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate
  • Obama visit to Asia seen as counterweight to China
  • Violence mars militant protest at US Embassy
  • Marketplace