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Malaysians, Filipinos among Algeria hostages: report

Malaysian and Filipino nationals are among the hostages being held at a gas field in Algeria, French news channel France 24 reported Wednesday on the basis of what they said was a phone conversation with a Frenchman also being held.

The station, which only broadcast a very short excerpt of the conversation they recorded with the French hostage, said he had told them that he was being held along with English, Japanese, Filipino and Malaysian nationals.

News 24 said it had no way of knowing if the hostage was speaking under constraint from his captors.

According to the station, the Frenchman said the hostages were being held in a booby-trapped building at the gas field in southern Algeria and that individual hostages had belts of explosives attached to them as a deterrent against any attack from security forces.

France has not confirmed that one of its nationals is among the hostages.

Islamists told Mauritanian media they were holding 41 Westerners, among them French, British and Japanese citizens, as well as seven Americans, at the gas field, In Amenas, which is jointly operated by British oil giant BP, Norway's Statoil and state-run Algerian energy firm Sonatrach.

Algeria has said an Algerian and a Briton were killed in the attack.

Various sources had earlier indicated that the hostages include Americans, Britons, one Frenchman, an Irishman, several Japanese and Norwegians.

An Islamist group, in a statement posted on Mauritanian website Alakhbar, said the kidnapping was in retaliation for the French military intervention against armed Islamists who seized control of northern Mali in April last year.

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