Algeria: 8 troops hurt while ending hostage crisis

By the Associated Press | January 23, 2013 | 1:32 PM EST

In this Jan. 16, 2013 photo secretly taken by a hostage, an Islamic militant, rear center, in camouflage uniform, stands among Algerian employees who were forced to leave their houses with their belongings at the Ain Amenas natural gas complex in Ain Amenas, Algeria. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria says it did not sustain heavy losses and that only eight soldiers suffered minor wounds during a four-day siege of a gas plant by al-Qaida-linked militants who took dozens of foreigners hostage.

It was the first acknowledgement by the government of any military casualties in the standoff at the Ain Amenas plant, where 37 hostages and 29 militants died.

The militants, armed with explosives and automatic weapons, had threatened to blow up the entire complex. Algerian troops tried twice to end the crisis, first by firing from attack helicopters before finally launching a ground assault.

The Defense Ministry condemned Wednesday what it called "insinuations" it took heavy losses. It says the eight wounded were already back at work.

Algerian authorities are typically reluctant to announce military losses.