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Jan. 20, 2013 at 6:06 PM   |   Comments

Hostage crisis terrorists' tape aired

IN AMENAS, Algeria, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- An audiotape aired a day after the four-day hostage crisis came to a bloody end suggests terrorists planned to bomb the gas plant, Algerian media said.

Algeria's Ennahar TV Sunday said the audiotape is of the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group at the In Amenas BP gas facility in the Sahara saying they would destroy the facility and "slaughter" U.S. hostages unless 100 imprisoned "comrades" were released, ABC News reported.

The recordings were made before the hostage crisis ended in a raid Saturday in which almost all the terrorists were killed, ABC News said.

The terrorists' audiotape included speakers claiming the hostages had been forced to wear bombs.

"The Americans that are here, we will kill them. We will slaughter them," said Abdel Rahman el-Nigeri, in Arabic. Rahman el-Nigeri is a leader of the terrorists who held the facility and demanded the release of 100 "comrades" who were arrested 15 years ago.

He said some hostages were still alive after the Algerian military's first assault, but said the terrorists would bomb the Army if it again got too close.

The Algerian government warned Sunday the death toll after the deadly siege where at least 23 hostages died could increase after further investigation.

Hundreds of people had been held hostage in the gas plant before Saturday's raid. Citing military sources, Algerian state news said at least 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreign nationals were released during the siege.

Algerian officials initially put the death toll at 23 hostages and 32 terrorists, but that number was likely to increase. The New York Times said at least 20 more bodies were found Sunday.

Hostages from the United States, Japan, Norway, France and Britain are among the dead or unaccounted for.

A security official at the gas facility said many of the bodies found Sunday were so badly disfigured they could not be identified immediately.

"The bodies could be either Algerian or foreign hostages," the official was quoted as saying by USA Today.

The hostage-takers, identified as Islamic militants, stormed the plant last week in apparent retaliation for France's intervention in neighboring Mali. The attackers claimed to be from a group called Signers in Blood and said they were convinced Algeria would assist the French in their Mali campaign, The Times reported.


15-year-old charged in 5 shooting deaths

ALBUQUERQUE, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A 15-year-old boy was charged with murder Sunday after five people were found slain in Albuquerque, law enforcement officials said.

The charges came just hours after police discovered the bodies of a man, woman and three children with several gunshot wounds Saturday evening, KOB-TV, Albuquerque, reported.

Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies said they discovered several weapons at the scene of the shooting, including an assault-type rifle, KOAT-TV, Albuquerque, reported.

The identities of the suspect and victims were not reported.

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U.S. says 787 battery not overcharged

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Investigators in the United States said Sunday they had ruled out one potential cause of a worrisome battery fire aboard one of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliners.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the voltage from the battery had not exceeded its capacity during the Jan. 7 incident at Boston's Logan International Airport. The New York Times reported.

The battery aboard the Japan Airlines 787 caught fire after passengers had deplaned.

Battery issues caused an All Nippon Airways 787 to make an emergency landing in Japan last week. After that, Dreamliners worldwide were grounded pending an investigation.

The Times said Japanese authorities had suggested overcharging the battery could cause it to overheat. The flight data recorder aboard the Boston jet, however, showed the charge did not exceed the 32-volt design capacity.

Japanese and U.S. investigators, as well as Boeing technicians, will continue pouring over the components to the battery-charging system, officials said.


Obama to still seek compromise with GOP

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- President Obama will try again to foster bipartisanship in Washington during his second term, a top political aide said Sunday.

Senior White House Adviser David Plouffe said Obama would use Monday's inauguration speech to reach out to the U.S. public for their support in rallying more consensus in Congress as hot-button issues such as taxes, social programs, immigration reform and gun control take precedence on Capitol Hill.

"The only way change is going to really happen and we make progress is the American people," Plouffe said on CNN's "State of the Union." "It's one of the lessons of the first term. They need to be involved."

Plouffe noted the U.S. political system does not require citizens to become directly involved in governing, which can make it possible for small factions to effectively block necessary legislation. At the same time, Obama will try to persuade GOP lawmakers to modify their stands on various issues.

A top priority will be getting both parties together on an economic strategy that will be both workable and acceptable to both parties. Plouffe said a deal involving closing tax loopholes and a measure of entitlement reform would add long-term certainty to the business climate, which would in turn stoke the U.S. economy.

"This it comes back to where there is common ground," Plouffe said on "Fox News Sunday."

"We should be able to come up with a package and I think we'd all be better served if Congress starts working more in regular order, so we're not careening crisis-to-crisis, deadline to deadline."

Monday's formal inauguration will find Obama on firmer footing than he was four years ago, Plouffe said on ABC's "This Week," thanks to the improvement in the economy.

The White House plans to use that foundation to encourage hard-line Republicans to moderate their stances on the economy and other burning issues.

"The question is...can we come together on a fiscal package that reduces the deficit in the long term and then helps us grow the economy in the short term," Plouffe said "I think the answer is yes. We're doing this in stages, as opposed to one big package."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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