Militants say an Algerian helicopter attack has killed at least 34 hostages and 15 kidnappers in the Sahara standoff, Reuters and The Associated Press report.
Algeria's interior minister on Wednesday said Islamists attacked a gas field in eastern Algeria, killing two people and seizing hostages, including Westerners.
The Westerners, accompanied by Algerian security forces, were en route to In Amenas Airport when they were attacked early in the morning by a group of no more than 20 people, the official, Diho Weld Qabliyeh, told Algerian state television. The security forces returned fire, and the attackers withdrew to the base of the petroleum operation, some 3 kilometers away, he said.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Americans were among the hostages.
Check back for more on this developing story.