Norway says 3 missing hostages dead in Algeria

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OSLO, Norway (AP) — Norwegian energy company Statoil ASA said Friday that three Norwegian employees missing after a terror attack on a gas plant in Algeria have been confirmed dead.

Statoil CEO Helge Lund said the three workers were 58-year-old Tore Bech; Thomas Snekkevik, 35; and 55-year-old Hans M. Bjone.

Bech, who had worked for Statoil in Algeria since 2006, was the stepfather of Norwegian International Development Minister Heikki Holmaas.

Statoil gave no details about the victims or circumstances leading to their discovery or identification.

Two other Norwegian Statoil employees remain missing from the Jan. 16 attack on the Ain Amenas plant in the Sahara, which resulted in a four-day siege by Algerian forces, Statoil said. An al-Qaida affiliated organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg conveyed condolences to the families of the dead, describing the attack as "brutal ... and full of evil." He added that it is unlikely that any more survivors of the attack will be found.

Algerian authorities have said at least 37 hostages and 29 militants died during the terrorist attack — which sent scores of foreign energy workers fleeing across the desert for their lives — and that five were still missing. Some of the fatalities were badly burned, making it difficult to identify them.

It was unclear whether the three Norwegians identified on Friday were among the missing or whether their bodies had been found but have only now been identified.

Norway has a forensic team in Algeria helping local officials.

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