Islamist gunmen who seized hundreds of gas plant workers in the Sahara told Algerian staff they would not harm Muslims but would kill Western hostages they called “Christians and infidels”, a local man who escaped said on Thursday.
In a rare eyewitness account of Wednesday’s dawn raid deep in the desert, a local man employed at the facility told Reuters the militants appeared to have good inside knowledge of the layout of the complex and used the language of radical Islam.
“The terrorists told us at the very start that they would not hurt Muslims but were only interested in the Christians and infidels,” Abdelkader, 53, said by telephone from his home in the nearby town of In Amenas. “We will kill them, they said.”
His voice choking with emotion – “I’m a lucky man,” he said over the sound of children playing and a television relaying the latest news – Abdelkader described how he managed to escape along with many of the hundreds of Algerians initially detained.