BP hit by kidnap attack at Algeria site - UPDATE



LONDON (ShareCast) - Islamist militants on Wednesday kidnapped foreigners in a 'terrorist' attack at a BP (LSE: BP.L - news) gas field in Algeria, the UK Foreign Office confirmed.

The British Embassy is working with local authorities to handle the raid on the In Amenas facility, an office spokeswoman told Digital Look and Sharecast.

She said the identities of the victims are yet to be confirmed after a number of news agencies released varying information on the attack, which was claimed by an al Qaeda affiliate.

Reuters said two people were killed and at least nine people were held hostage at the site while others reported eight were kidnapped and one died in the incident.

Algeria's official APS news agency said a security guard was killed and seven people were injured including two foreigners.

Five Japanese, one French and an Irishman were among the victims, local authorities told the agency. The Japanese nationals were working for the Japanese engineering firm JCG Corp, it said.

A Norwegian gas worker was also kidnapped, according to newspaper Bergens Tidende which quoted the man's wife.

The attack came after Islamists had vowed to retaliate for France's military intervention in Mali, where its forces have been in action against al Qaeda-linked militants since last week.

The al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for Wednesday's raid in Algeria, Mauritania's ANI news agency reported.

The gas field is operated by BP, Norwegian oil firm Statoil (Xetra: 676685 - news) and Algerian state company Sonatrach.

BP released a statement confirming the incident but a spokesman declined further details when reached for comment.

"We can confirm that there has been a security incident this morning at the In Amenas gas field in the eastern central region of Algeria," it said.

"Algerian authorities are engaged with the incident; UK authorities have also been advised. BP has activated its emergency response system and is setting up a helpline for relatives

"We have no more confirmed details at this time. We will provide further updates."

Statoil said an emergency response organisation was mobilised and they were working to review the situation.

"Our main focus is the safety of the employees at the facility," the company said in a statement.

"Algerian authorities are handling the situation locally, while Norwegian and British authorities have also been informed of the incident."

Statoil has just under 20 employees at the facility, and more than 10 are Norwegian.