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KUALA LUMPUR - Two Malaysians have been confirmed to be among 41 workers held hostage at the Ain Amenas gas field in the eastern central region of Algeria since Wenesday.
Wisma Putra has confirmed that the hostages' families and their branch office company in Singapore have been notified of the situation.
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman has also contacted his counterpart in Algeria, Mourad Medelci, to seek the Algerian government's assistance in ensuring the hostages safety and release.
"We are deeply concerned with the hostage-taking incident involving Malaysians and will do our utmost in efforts to secure their release," he said in a statement issued yesterday.
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A Malaysian embassy spokeswoman in Algeria said there were five to six Malaysians working at the plant.
She said details of what had happened were, however, very sketchy.
"The fact that some of the Malaysians working here are not registered with the embassy had slowed down the tracking and identifying process," she said, adding that those registered with the embassy have been contacted to confirm their safety.
She added that the embassy also received calls from Malaysians who were concerned of their loved ones safety following the incident.
"We have also tried to get in touch with the oil and gas company but communication has been hampered with those in the plant as it's a hostage situation.
"We are working closely with the MFA here for more updates and official confirmation.
"The media here have several versions of the hostage situation," she added.
A statement, posted on BP's official website, confirmed that the wet-gas field, operated in partnership between Algerian state oil company Sonatrach with BP and Statoil, was attacked at 0500 United Kingdom time (1pm local time).
It said that the plant had also been occupied by a group of unidentified armed people.
"Contact with the site is extremely difficult, but we understand that armed individuals are still occupying the Ain Amenas operations site," the statement read.
BP also stated that the company would give priority to the safety and security of their staff, but did not state the number or nationality of staff involved.
"The site is normally manned by staff and contractors from the joint venture. We do not as yet have confirmed information on the status of our staff at the site but believe some are being held by the occupiers."
BP has activated its emergency response system and is contacting relatives of its people on the site.
"We are attempting to get confirmed information on the identity or intention of the people occupying the site," it added.
BP said UK authorities, Norwegian and other governments had been advised and Algerian local authorities were working with the joint venture company and with BP and Statoil.