SOURCE - RESTRICTION: Pool - AP Clients Only

Location - Date: WASHINGTON - Jan. 17

1. SOUNDBITE: Victoria Nuland, State Department Spokeswoman:

"As you know the situation is extremely fluid on the ground. We are working with the government of Algeria. We are working with other affected nations to try to resolve this situation. But, as you can imagine as we talked about yesterday. This is a hostage situation. Our first priority is for the safety and for the security of the people involved.//

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We are also in contact with the families of the U.S. Citizens that are known to be involved, as we always are in such circumstances. I'd also say that our overseas security advisory council is in touch with U.S. Businesses across the region and has also posted messages on (unintelligible) that are being distributed to registered users to ensure not only that we're in contact with directly effected businesses but also with businesses with interest across the region, should there be efforts at copy cat things."


The State Department says it is in contact with the families of several Americans who have been taken hostage in Algeria. High level officials have already been in contact with Algeria and other affected governments.

Meanwhile, The White House is condemning the taking of dozens of hostages, including several Americans, from an oil plant in Algeria by militants linked to rebel Islamists in Mali.

Militants claim that 35 hostages were killed Thursday, after Algerian military helicopters were ween in the area during an attempt to free those being held. They say seven hostages survived.

White House press secretary Jay Carney won't confirm the status of the Americans or whether the U.S. offered to help the Algerian government with its raid on the energy complex.

Carney says the administration is monitoring the situation closely, is concerned about reports of killings and is in contact with the Algerian government.