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Hostage death 'cold-blooded murder'
A number of Britons are among the group of foreign nationals being held after armed Islamist militants stormed a natural gas field (AP)
Foreign Secretary William Hague has accused the terrorists who killed a British national in the Algerian hostage crisis of "cold-blooded murder".
Several British workers are still among dozens of hostages in the gas field complex which was stormed by heavily armed militants on Wednesday. One other hostage has reportedly also been killed.
Later, unconfirmed local reports said a group of 15 foreign nationals, including a French couple, have escaped from their kidnappers. The Algerian state news agency APS reported 30 Algerian workers also managed to flee from the In Amenas gas field.
BP, which part-controls the facility that was attacked, said armed groups were still on site holding a number of its staff, and described the situation as "unresolved and fragile". The company said it would not be releasing any information on those being held to "ensure we do not risk compromising the safety of these staff in any way".
An Islamist group claimed it was holding 41 Westerners, including seven Americans, in retaliation for the French military intervention against al Qaida-backed rebels in neighbouring Mali.
The Prime Minister is chairing a meeting of the Government's emergency response committee Cobra.
Mr Hague described the siege as a "dangerous and rapidly developing situation" and has despatched a specialist response team to Algeria to back up Britain's embassy staff.
He told the BBC: "This is an absolute tragedy, of course. In this dangerous and rapidly developing situation the next of kin have been informed. The Government's Cobra emergency system is in full operation. I have spoken to our ambassador in Algeria and despatched a rapid deployment team to Algeria to strengthen our embassy there and help them in their work.
"Excuses being used by terrorists and murderers who are involved - there is no excuse for such behaviour, whatever excuse they may claim. It is absolutely unacceptable, of course. It is, in this case, the cold-blooded murder of people going about their business. So there is no excuse, whether it be connected to Libya, Mali or anywhere else."
Oil company BP said: "We are in contact with the families of those BP staff, offering them support and information. We will remain in frequent contact with the families to provide support and update them on developments. BP is in regular contact with the Algerian authorities, with our partners at Statoil and with other companies involved in the situation."