'No Thai hostages' in Algeria

No Thais were being held hostage by terrorists in Algeria, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said on Friday.

The Foreign Ministry has verified reports with the Thai embassy in France, which oversees Algeria, and the embassy confirmed that no Thais were among foreigners kidnapped by the Islamic extremists, Mr Surapong said.

A leader of the gang of kidnappers holding dozens of foreigners at a desert gas field in Algeria told AFP on Thursday that Thais were among about 41 hostages.

The Islamist militants had seized hundreds of hostages at the field deep in the Sahara on Wednesday, purportedly to avenge the French-led offensive in neighbouring Mali.

Algerian officials said soldiers were still surrounding the site's main gas facility, which was yet to be secured.

Nationals of at least 10 countries, among them Britons, Norwegians, Japanese and Americans, have been seized and an unknown number have died in clashes. However, details have been impossible to verify.

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Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol
Position: Reporter