Philippine worker speaks of Algeria hostage ordeal

Philippine worker speaks of Algeria hostage ordeal

Philippine worker speaks of Algeria hostage ordeal

Updated 19 January 2013, 19:34 AEST

A Philippine worker taken hostage by Islamist militants at an Algerian gas field has spoken about how he escaped from his kidnappers.

A Philippine worker taken hostage by Islamist militants at a remote Algerian gas field has told local television how he escaped from his kidnappers.

Jojo Balmaceda, employed by British oil giant BP, and three fellow Filipino workers were taken at gunpoint as they arrived for work, tied up and thrown into a truck along with Japanese and Malaysian hostages.

Mr Balmaceda said he escaped when the truck was hit by an explosion but sustained a gunshot wound to his head which had affected his hearing, the GMA network reported.

"After that I ran away, fearing that the vehicle would explode. Then I lost consciousness and when I woke up I was already in hospital," Mr Balmaceda said in a brief telephone interview.

"I hope to get on a flight so I would be back home tomorrow," he added.

Mr Balmaceda was interviewed shortly before he was flown to London.

Philippine foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez did not address AFP queries on Mr Balmaceda specifically and Philippine embassy officials in London were unavailable for comment.

Mr Hernandez says 34 Filipino workers have been evacuated from the gas field, and are now on their way home to the Philippines.

"We have sent a team from our embassy in Tripoli to Algeria to monitor the incident on the ground and assist overseas Filipino workers who may need assistance there," he said.

Mr Hernandez did not say whether there were other Filipino casualties or hostages.

Press reports say that at least two Filipinos were among those killed in the rescue operation.

BP said it had evacuated hundreds of workers from Algeria amid the "serious" hostage crisis.

Hostages freed but Algerian stand-off ongoing Video: Hostages freed but Algerian stand-off ongoing (ABC News)

The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the attack and hostage-taking at an Algerian gas complex by militants.

The Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen seized the plant in the north African desert on Wednesday to avenge what they said was Algiers' support for French military action in neighbouring Mali.

At least 12 hostages and 18 kidnappers have been killed in the assault by Algerian security forces on the complex in the Sahara desert.

The Algerian state news agency says a military operation is still going at the plant, and about 30 foreigners remain unaccounted for.

A statement by the 15-member Security Council stressed the need to bring the Al-Qaeda-linked attackers and their backers to justice.

The Malaysian embassy in Kuala Lumpur says the fate of two Malaysians believed to have been caught up in the ongoing hostage crisis remains unknown.

France and the United States have each confirmed that one of their citizens is among the dead.

The Algerian Government says militants are still holding three groups of hostages at the site and that the operation is not over.

AFP/ABC/BBC