Algerian military forces have attacked Islamist militants holding hostages, some of whom are American, at a natural gas complex in eastern Algeria. News reports say some hostages escaped, and others were killed. It is not known whether or how many of the escapees and casualties are American.
The Islamist insurgents claimed to have kidnapped 41 foreigners, including seven Americans, Politico reported.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday that U.S. officials were closely monitoring the situation he called "a terrorist attack."
"It is a very serious matter when Americans are taken hostage along with others," Panetta said to Politico. "We will continue to review the situation. We're in consultation with the Algerians, as well as the British, to determine exactly what happened and what the situation is. And I want to assure the American people that the United States will take all necessary and proper steps that are required to deal with this situation."
The militants have issued a list of demands, including calling for an end to the French military intervention against Islamist rebels in Mali, which has involved some U.S. intelligence, logistics and other military support, the BBC reports.