Man with Houston ties possibly among hostages in Algeria

Published On: Jan 16 2013 09:44:49 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 16 2013 11:29:12 PM CST
HOUSTON -

One of the Americans taken hostage at a natural gas facility in Algeria is based in Houston.

BP said the conflict is in a gas field in the remote Saharan Desert in eastern Algeria near Libya. It is a joint operation by several companies, including BP.

Sources said the hostage situation ensued after militants approached the facility in three unmarked vehicles and attacked.

NBC reported two people died in the attack. Sources said there were 20 to 40 hostages, including at least three Americans. 

An internal memo from a Houston company asks for prayers for one of their former employees. According to the memo, the Houston man is among the Americans taken hostage. The memo also said he was able to call his family Wednesday and he was not hurt, but was being held hostage. Local 2 has not been able to reach the man's family.

David Adler, a lawyer and former CIA officer living in Houston, spoke with KPRC Local 2 about the conflict.

"Working in that part of the world, as a foreigner, is a fairly dangerous endeavor," said David Adler. "In this particular area, there have been a fair amount of kidnappings in the past few years for financial reasons. This appears to be the first large scale hostage taking for political reasons."

A former Al Qaeda commander was accused of leading the attack after promising retaliation for nearby military action aimed at keeping terrorists from setting up a base. 

Algerian troops have surrounded the facility and warn they will not negotiate.

BP released a statement Wednesday, saying:

"We can confirm that there is an ongoing security incident at the In Amenas gas field in the eastern central region of Algeria. The In Amenas field is operated by a joint venture of Sonatrach (the Algerian national oil company), BP and Statoil. The site was attacked and occupied by a group of unidentified armed people at about 0500 UK time. Contact with the site is extremely difficult, but we understand that armed individuals are still occupying the In Amenas operations site. Our absolute priority is the safety and security of our staff. The site is normally manned by staff and contractors from the joint venture. We do not yet have confirmed information on the status of personnel at the site but believe some are being held by the occupiers. We are attempting to get confirmed information at the moment as to whether there have been any injuries to personnel at the site. We do not have confirmed information on the identity or intention of the people occupying the site. Algerian authorities are engaged with the incident. UK authorities, Norwegian and other governments have also been advised and are engaged. Algerian local authorities are working with the joint venture and with BP and Statoil. BP has activated its emergency response system and is contacting relatives of its people on the site."