01/19/2013 05:54 EST | Updated 03/21/2013 05:12 EDT

John Baird: Canada Condemns Algerian Kidnapping, Says No Canadians Among Hostages

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OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada condemns the Algerian kidnappings, calling the attacks "deplorable and cowardly."

The minister says it's believed no Canadians or dual nationals were among the hostages and a permanent resident of Canadian who was at the site is safe and has left Algeria.

The minister says while the full scale and exact details of the situation remain unclear, Canadian officials remain in close contact with Algerian authorities to seek further information.

The Algerian government says special forces stormed a natural gas complex in the Sahara desert today to end a standoff with Islamist extremists that left at least 23 hostages dead and killed all 32 militants involved.

The bloody standoff erupted when militants attempted to hijack two buses at the plant, were initially driven back and then seized the sprawling refinery, which is 1,300 kilometres south of Algiers.

Foreign Affairs is looking into reports that one of the hostage takers was a Canadian.

“The thoughts and prayers of our entire country are with the families and friends of the innocent lives lost," Baird said.

“Canada remains a committed partner in the global struggle against terrorism in all its forms.”

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