Algeria siege: 'The army bombed the trucks'

Two survivors of the ongoing hostage crisis in Algeria, an Irishman and a Frenchman, have given harrowing details of their ordeal.

Stephen McFaul, an electrician from Northern Ireland with Irish citizenship, said he had escaped a bombardment by Algerian security forces in which other hostages died.

Alexandre Berceaux, who worked for a French catering company at the site near In Amenas, said he had hidden for nearly 40 hours in his bedroom before escaping.

Stephen McFaul, Irish electrician

Image caption Stephen McFaul is seen here with his sons in an undated photo

After his escape, Mr McFaul spoke by telephone to his wife Angela, who in turn gave details to Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore and Mr McFaul's brother, Brian.

Interviewed by Reuters news agency, the hostage's brother said Stephen, 36, had survived an attack by security forces on vehicles carrying militants and hostages.

"They were moving five jeep-loads of hostages from one part of the compound," he said.

"At that stage they were intercepted by the Algerian army. The army bombed four out of five of the trucks and four of them were destroyed.

"The truck my brother was in crashed and at that stage Stephen was able to make a break for his freedom. He presumed everyone else in the other trucks was killed."

After speaking to Angela, Foreign Minister Gilmore said: "I have been told at the stage where they [the hostages] were being transported, explosives were strapped to them."

Alexandre Berceaux, French caterer

"The main thing is that I am alive," Mr Berceaux told French radio station Europe 1.

"I remained hidden for nearly 40 hours in my bedroom, under the bed. I had put boards just about everywhere."

"I had food and water," he added. "I didn't know how long I was going to stay there."

The Frenchman works for CIS Catering, which employs 150 Algerian staff at the site.

Some of his colleagues brought him food, using a password.

"When the Algerian soldiers, whom I thank, came to get me, I didn't even know it was over.

"They were with colleagues. Otherwise I would never have opened [the door].

"I was afraid. I could see myself ending up between four boards."

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