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Jan. 19, 2013 at 10:37 PM   |   Comments

Reports: Raid ends Algeria gas plant siege

IN AMENAS, Algeria, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- At least 23 hostages, an American among them, and 32 captors are dead after a Saturday raid ended the siege at an Algerian natural-gas plant, officials said.

Citing military sources, Algerian state news said at least 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreign nationals were released during the three-day siege.

CNN said it was unable to confirm the figures reported by Algerian media and Algerian television said the death toll it reported Saturday was subject to revision.

ABC News reported the U.S. State Department had confirmed Fred Buttaccio of Texas was among the dead. The network said two other Americans, who it did not identify, were unaccounted for, while another American, Mark Cobb of Corpus Christi, Texas, was confirmed safe.

U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement, saying "the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the families of all those who were killed and injured in the terrorist attack in Algeria."

"The blame for this tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out, and the United States condemns their actions in the strongest possible terms," Obama said. "We have been in constant contact with Algerian officials and stand ready to provide whatever assistance they need in the aftermath of this attack. We also will continue to work closely with all of our partners to combat the scourge of terrorism in the region, which has claimed too many innocent lives."


4 dead in Scotland avalanche

PRESTWICK, Scotland, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- An avalanche in the rugged Scottish Highlands Saturday hit a six-member climbing party, leaving four dead and a fifth injured, authorities said.

The climbers -- three men and three women -- were descending near Church Door Buttress on Bidean Nam Bian when the wall of snow gave way, The (Scotland) Herald reported. One man jumped clear and a woman was found with a serious head injury, the newspaper said.

Rescuers were first alerted to the incident by two other climbers who were not part of the group who came upon the avalanche scene. The male survivor from the climbing party also phoned authorities soon..

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called it "an appalling tragedy."

"To lose four people from a party of six is truly devastating," Salmond said.

"The Scottish government will provide any support that we can and I would like to thank the police and mountain rescue team for their efforts in these difficult circumstances."


5 accidentally wounded at 3 gun shows

RALEIGH, N.C., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Accidental shootings at gun shows in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio Saturday left five people wounded, authorities said.

Police said a security guard and two other people were wounded about 1 p.m. Saturday when a 12-gauge shotgun a man intended to sell at the Dixie Gun & Knife Show in Raleigh, N.C., discharged as it was being checked in, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported.

The injured were identified as Janet Hoover, 54, of Benson, Linwood Hester, 50, of Durham, and Jake Alderman, a retired Wake County sheriff's deputy from Wake Forest. Officials said the injuries did not appear life-threatening, the newspaper said.

The shotgun's owner, Gary Lynn Wilson, 36, of Wilmington, was being questioned by the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

In Indianapolis, a person loading a gun outside the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show at the State Fairgrounds was accidentally shot when his .45-caliber, semiautomatic discharged about 4:15 p.m. Saturday, WISH-TV, Indianapolis, reported.

Gun show representative Ashley Varner said the man, identified as Emory L. Cozee, 54, had been inside at the gun show before the incident.

Cozee was taken to a hospital for treatment for a wound to his hand and police said no charges would be filed, The Indianapolis Star reported.

In Medina, Ohio, a 62-year-old man was seriously injured about 3 p.m. Saturday when a semiautomatic pistol being checked by a gun dealer at a gun show at the Medina County Fair Community Center discharged, the Medina Gazette reported.

The unidentified victim, who was struck in the thigh and arm, is the dealer's partner, the newspaper said. His condition wasn't available.

Medina Police Chief Patrick Berarducci said no charges would be filed against the unidentified dealer.


Homes locked down by asphalt plant fire

OSHAWA, Ontario, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- A large fire at an asphalt plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Saturday sent up massive black clouds of smoke, prompting officials to warn people to stay inside.

The 5:30 a.m. fire at McAsphalt Industries Ltd. affected more than 1,000 homes and businesses, the Toronto Star reported, but had caused no known injuries.

Firefighters thought they had the blaze under control by 9 a.m. only to have flames sprout in other areas, the newspaper said, and thick smoke was still visible in Pickering in mid-afternoon.

"It's gone through the roof and several areas of the building have collapsed," Oshawa Fire chief fire prevention officer Susan King said. "The whole building is compromised ... . It's for sure unsalvageable."

Oshawa residents were urge to remain indoors and keep their homes closed up tight for much of the day. The lockdown was lifted just before 6 p.m.

Environment Ministry officials conducted air sampling and "levels are within acceptable limits," the city website stated Saturday evening.

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