MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said that the number of Filipinos who died in the hostage crisis in Algeria has risen to seven.
Assistant Secretary and DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez told reporters in a press briefing that the Filipino was positively identified by Algerian and Philippine authorities as one of those earlier reported to be missing. Hernandez said the authorities were able to positively identify the Filipino from one of the recovered bodies.
Hernandez also clarified that another Filipino who had earlier been reported to be missing had been accounted for, and was not in Algeria when the incident happened.
“Therefore, we still have two Filipinos unaccounted for and missing……and our team in Algeria continues to coordinate with the authorities and employers to find them,” Hernandez said.
The DFA had said that the six male Filipino fatalities earlier reported were mostly employed by the Japanese engineering firm JGC Corporation. He noted, however, that the seventh Filipino identified was employed by a British company.
Hernandez said that they could not yet disclose the names of the Filipino fatalities as they had not been authorized by their respective kin. He added that the authorities were working on the speedy repatriation of the remains of the fatalities but that they could not yet give a specific date.
He added that specific details on the circumstances of how the Filipinos died remained hazy but maintained 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.”
Hernandez also noted that four Filipinos who were injured in incident remained in “stable condition” at the Al Azhar hospital in Algiers.
“They are able to stand up and walk, and the employer is now arranging their repatriation but we could not yet give a specific date,” Hernandez said.
He also said that the four Filipino workers from the Algeria who arrived Wednesday were those who were earlier reported to be staying at the Mercure Hotel. The DFA had said that they were inside the gas facility compound when it was attacked and occupied by militants but they were able to hide and so were not taken hostage.
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.