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1 American dead at Algerian site


February 20. 2013 2:44AM
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WASHINGTON — One American worker at a natural gas complex in Algeria has been found dead, U.S. officials said Friday as the Obama administration sought to secure the release of Americans still being held by militants on the third day of the hostage standoff at a natural gas complex in the Sahara.


The officials identified the dead American as Frederick Buttaccio, a Texas resident, but said it was unclear how he died. They said U.S. officials recovered Buttaccio's remains on Friday and notified his family. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter.


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she spoke by telephone with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal to get an update on Americans and others in danger at the sprawling Ain Amenas refinery 800 miles south of Algiers. She said the utmost care must be taken to preserve innocent life.


Clinton talked to reporters after the Obama administration confirmed that Americans were still being held hostage, even as some U.S. citizens were being flown out of the country for recovery in Europe. The Algerian state news agency reported that 12 hostages had been killed since Wednesday's start of an Algerian rescue operation, and world leaders steadily increased their criticism of the North African country's handling of the attack.


Clinton, however, defended Algeria's action. Let's not forget: This is an act of terror, she told reporters in Washington. The perpetrators are the terrorists. They are the ones who have assaulted this facility, have taken hostage Algerians and others from around the world as they were going about their daily business.


Earlier Friday, Algeria's state news service reported that nearly 100 of the 132 foreign workers kidnapped by Islamic militants were free. That number of hostages at the remote desert facility was significantly higher than any previous report, but questions remained about the fate of more than 30 other foreign energy workers.


BP evacuated one American, along with other foreign workers, to Mallorca, Spain, and then to London. And an American official said a U.S. military C-130 flew a group of people, including some lightly wounded or injured, from Algiers to a U.S. facility in Europe on Friday. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.




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