The Islamist militants who attacked a natural gas plant in the Sahara included two Canadians and a team of explosives experts who had memorized the layout of the sprawling complex and were ready to blow the place sky-high, Algeria's prime minister said Monday.
Militants in the highly-organized operation also wore Algerian army uniforms and appeared to have help from the inside - a man from Niger who had once worked as driver at the plant, he said.
Algeria detailed a grim toll from the attack, saying that 38 hostages and 29 militants died in four days of mayhem. Three of the attackers were captured and five foreign workers remained unaccounted for, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told reporters at a news conference in Algiers, the capital.
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The militants had said during the standoff that their group included Canadians, and hostages who had escaped recalled hearing at least one of the militants speaking English with a North American accent.
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Officials in Canada could not immediately confirm whether two of the attackers were citizens.
"Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms this deplorable and cowardly act and all terrorist groups which seek to create and perpetuate insecurity,'' said Chrystiane Roy, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
"We are pursuing all appropriate channels to seek further information and are in close contact with Algerian authorities,'' she said in a statement.