7 Japanese declared dead in Algeria crisis

JAPAN - Seven Japanese employees of JGC Corp have been confirmed dead following the hostage crisis at a natural gas plant in Ain Amenas, Algeria, while three others remain unaccounted for, the government has announced.

At a meeting of a government task force Monday night, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the deaths of the seven employees of the Yokohama-based engineering company were confirmed at an Algerian hospital.

Abe condemned the terrorist attack Tuesday. "It's extremely heartbreaking that businessmen devoted to their company who worked hard outside Japan lost their lives in such a way," Abe said at a meeting of Liberal Democratic Party executives. "The terrorists are entirely to blame. We'll continue our fight against terrorism by working with other countries."

As of Tuesday morning, the government had "not received any reports" regarding the three missing Japanese, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

The deaths were confirmed by Japanese government officials--including Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Minoru Kiuchi--and JGC officials.

"We'll provide all necessary support so the seven can return to Japan to be reunited with their relatives as soon as possible," Abe said during Monday's meeting of the task force.

He told ministers concerned to do everything in their power to quickly confirm the fate of the three men missing after the four-day siege.

At a press conference late Monday, Suga said the identities of the seven were confirmed by photos. Their names and addresses have not been released. "We discussed this matter with JGC, and the company requested that the identities not be made public," Suga said.

A government plane was to depart for Algeria at 10 p.m. Tuesday to bring back the bodies of the seven, as well as seven other JGC employees who survived the armed attack.

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