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AFP

Algeria crisis affects gas flows to Italy

Algeria gas deliveries to Italy fell by over 10 million cubic meters a day, a spokesperson for Italian gas transport group Snam said on Thursday, following a crisis at the In Amenas plant in which Islamist gunmen took dozens of foreigners hostage.

The gas flow on the Transmed pipeline has dropped to 62 mcm a day from the usual 75.2 mcm, the spokesperson said.

Dozens of foreigners, including British, Irish, French, US, Norwegian and Japanese citizens, were seized on Wednesday at the southern Algerian plant by kidnappers who said they were seeking retaliation for French military intervention in Mali.

The Algerian military launched on Thursday an air and ground assault on a desert gas complex where Islamists were holding foreigners hostages, killing nearly 50 people, a kidnappers' spokesperson told the Mauritanian ANI news agency.

British energy giant BP, which partly controls the plant, said Thursday that it was evacuating a group of workers.

"As a precautionary measure, staged plans are under way to bring a group of non-essential workers out of Algeria," BP said.

Algeria gas deliveries to Italy fell by over 10 million cubic meters a day.