Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will cancel all engagements in Indonesia except the bilateral discussions with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono so that he may quickly return home and attend to the ongoing hostage crisis in Algeria, where Japanese nationals working for JGC Corp. are among the victims. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that in view of the circumstances, the Indonesian side has agreed to this request.
According to Reuters, an Algerian security source said that Algerian forces stormed the desert gas complex where the victims were being held captive in order to free hundreds of hostages, including the Japanese nationals. Unfortunately, during this military operations, 30 hostages were killed, as well as some 11 of their Islamist captors. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the actions of the Algerian forces were regrettable, and that they were not informed that such an attack will be made. JGC has already spoken to three of its employees who were hostages, but 14 are still unaccounted for.
Abe is expected to be back in Japan by dawn on Saturday, instead of in the evening as originally planned. He was supposed to give a policy speech on closer relations with Southeast Asia, and thereafter attend a dinner to be hosted by the Indonesian President, but these have now been cancelled.[via Asia One]