WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- One American worker was killed at a natural gas complex in Algeria where al-Qaida-affiliated militants held more than 130 foreign workers hostage, the U.S. State Department confirmed Friday.
"We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement, identifying the victim as Frederick Buttaccio from the state of Texas.
Nuland did not release further details. U.S. media reports said Buttaccio's remains had been recovered from the gas complex near In Amenas in the southern Algerian province of Illizi.
It remained unknown whether Buttaccio was the only American worker killed in the hostage incident, aimed at avenging Algeria's support for French involvement in conflict in neighboring Mali. At least 30 foreign workers were reportedly still unaccounted for as of Friday.
Algerian troops launched an air-and-ground raid on the gas complex on Thursday in an attempt to rescue the hostages, who were taken a day earlier.
Algeria's official APS news agency said more than 670 hostages, including 573 Algerians and about 100 foreigners, were freed in the raid, which also left 12 Algerian and foreign hostages and 18 militants dead.
But the assault was criticized by some countries, including Japan and Britain, which complained they were not informed of the operation.
Speaking at the State Department's news briefing earlier Friday, Nuland said that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal on Friday for a straight third day to "get his perspective about exactly what's happening on the ground, how the operation is unfolding."
Clinton later told a press conference with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida that the hostage situation is "extremely difficult and dangerous."
"The United States extends our condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones in this brutal assault and we remain deeply concerned about those who remain in danger," she said.
Clinton defended the Algerian troops' move to rescue the hostages, saying that they were dealing with "terrorists." But at the same time, she urged Algeria to take the "utmost care" to protect the hostages.