Jan 21, 2013 3:00 PM by Lauren Molenburg
TOKYO (AP) - Seven Japanese citizens died during a hostage crisis at an Algerian oil field and three others remain missing, Japan's prime minister said Monday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a government crisis taskforce that he was "speechless" that innocent people had been killed.
"The use of force by terrorists against innocent citizens is totally unforgivable. We strongly condemn it," he said.
The victims worked for a Japanese engineering company, JGC Corp. Seven other Japanese workers for the company survived.
"These people were working hard for the gas development project in Algeria," chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a late-night news conference. "It's a great loss and a deep sadness for our country."
Abe said he was informed of the deaths by Japanese officials who traveled to Algeria to investigate the status of Japanese who had been taken hostage by militants who seized a gas field and held foreigners from a number of countries captive for four days. Algerian special forces stormed the plant on Saturday, ending the standoff.
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said Monday that 37 foreign hostages and 29 Islamist militants had been killed.
Suga said the government was arranging the repatriation of the victims' remains and was doing its utmost to locate the three missing workers.