January 31, 2013(Mainichi Japan)
Islamist militants gunned down fleeing Japanese: local staffer

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Two of the 10 Japanese killed in the recent gas plant hostage crisis here were gunned down trying to flee as Islamic militants swept into the facility on Jan. 16, an Algerian plant worker has told the Mainichi.
The two victims were Bunshiro Naito, 44, and Rokuro Fuchida, 64, 30-year-old Abdel Hamid told the Mainichi during a Jan. 30 interview. Both men worked for companies affiliated with engineering firm JGC Corp. The Algerian has been an office employee at the plant in In Amenas, southern Algeria, since March 2012.

According to the local employee, the two Japanese workers were boarding minibuses in the residential quarter of the natural gas plant when they ran into the invading militants. The Algerian employee survived the ordeal, but said he was certain he would be killed.
The attack began at around 5:40 a.m. on Jan. 16, when the 30-year-old was preparing for work. He saw red lights outside his room in the residential quarter at about the time some 10 JGC employees were scheduled to board buses bound for their office at the plant. What was actually happening, however, was a faceoff with the militants. The driver threw the bus into reverse and tried to escape, only to be stopped when the vehicle hit a rock, according to the employee.

The passengers got off the minibus and tried to flee, but Fuchida and a Malaysian worker were shot in their tracks before they could reach the safety of a nearby building. The militants then killed Naito and a Filipino worker in their hiding place in another structure.

According to the local employee, Fuchida would always greet him with a smile, saying, "Good morning" in Arabic, whenever they got on the same bus to work. He said Japanese workers were kind, adding that he didn't know what to say about what happened to them.

The 30-year-old himself hid under his bed when the militants opened fire, locking the door and turning off the air conditioner and lights. One of the attackers tried to open the door but soon gave up and moved to the next room.

At about 9 a.m., the 30-year-old tapped out an email to his father on his mobile phone, telling him the residences were being attacked by terrorists and asking him to call police. He also asked his father not to worry his mother by telling her what was going on. Later, during the five hours of sporadic gunfire that followed the initial assault, the employee heard voices in English and Tunisian-accented Arabic saying they wouldn't harm Muslims, but he was too scared to come out.

The local employee finally fled his room on the morning of Jan. 17 when a friend called to him from just outside his window, asking him to flee together. They joined around 40 people making their escape, including a Japanese JGC worker. They saw the bodies of their murdered coworkers on the way but, desperate to get away, they ran on. The 30-year-old was dizzy and breathless by the time they reached the dormitory of a nearby Algerian state-run firm, where he was taken to a clinic.

The next morning, he and other workers made the 30 minute walk to another facility where other survivors were gathered. Along the way, he saw a vehicle that had been destroyed by an Algerian attack helicopter. He also saw six other Japanese survivors of the ordeal. He was taken to an airport on the back of a truck and was finally reunited with his wife and child at their home on Jan. 19. He had lost 12 kilograms over the three days. He told the Mainichi that he was still scared even now, and that he could have been killed had the gas plant been blown up.

An earlier interview with sources close to a hospital in In Amenas -- about 50 kilometers east of the gas plant -- has revealed that two Japanese were killed in air attacks by Algerian forces, while at least five other Japanese had been shot, though it remains unclear by whom. In total, 38 workers were killed in the hostage crisis.

毎日新聞 2013年01月31日 11時20分(最終更新 01月31日 12時46分)

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