Algeria says it was trying to "avoid a bloody turn of events" when its special forces stormed the natural gas complex in the Sahara where al-Qaida-linked militants were holding more than 100 foreign workers hostage.

Hostages in Algeria (YouTube)

The Algerian troops ended the standoff today with an assault that left at least 23 hostages dead and killed all 32 militants involved. The Interior Ministry says the extremists initially tried to flee with the hostages and then tried to blow up the gas facilities.

A total of 685 Algerian and 107 foreigner workers were freed over the course of the standoff, which began on Wednesday.

The military also confiscated machine guns, rocket launchers, missiles and grenades attached to suicide belts.

The ministry added that the militants involved consisted of 32 men of various nationalities, including three Algerians.


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