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Hostage killed in Algeria 'felt safe there'
From: cnn.com          Published On: January 22, 2013, 13:15 GMT
 
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 Hostage killed in Algeria 'felt safe there'

Victor Lovelady was excited about the job posting.

The money was good, and he got 28 days off for every 28 days he put in.

Yes, it was in a remote natural gas facility in Algeria, but the Nederland, Texas, man assured his family it was safe.

"He said, 'Nothing's happened there in so long and my friends have been doing it for so long,'" his daughter recounted in an interview with CNN affiliate KFDM on Monday. "He really, truly felt safe there. He did."

But just 10 days after he returned to the sprawling complex in Amenas from a visit home, Lovelady was taken hostage.

Militants wielding AK-47s drove up in pickup trucks, gathered the workers and tied them up.

In the four-day siege that followed, Lovelady was one of three Americans killed.

Thirty four other hostages from at least six countries -- including seven Japanese, six Filipinos and three Britons -- also died. At least five more workers are still missing.

Lovelady was just 57.

"I'm Daddy's little girl. That was me," his daughter, Erin, told KFDM, her face wet with tears. "We were very, very close."

On Tuesday -- almost a week later -- governments around the world were still waiting for the Algerian government to provide a full accounting of the dead and missing.

'We just knew he was going to be coming home'

The attack began at dawn Wednesday -- a retaliation, Algeria said, for the country allowing France to use its airspace for an offensive against Islamist militants in neighboring Mali.

But regional analysts believe it was too sophisticated to have been planned in days.

The targeted gas facility is run by Algeria's state oil company, in cooperation with foreign firms such as Norway's Statoil and Britain's BP. Some 790 people worked there, including 134 foreign workers.

The next day, Algerian special forces moved in, because the government said the militants planned to blow up the gas installation and flee to Mali.

The incursion succeeded in freeing some hostages -- but not all -- and several of them died.

Lovelady survived. The FBI informed his family that he was alive and well but still being held.

On Saturday, the Algerian government raided the facility again.

That assault killed the remaining hostage-takers but resulted in more hostage deaths.

Among them: Lovelady.

"I can't tell you to me how disheartening it was," his brother, Mike, said. "We just knew he was going to be coming home with the rest of them."

Algeria's interior ministry said security forces were compelled to intervene -- "to avoid a bloody turning point of events in this extremely dangerous situation."

The two operations helped free hundreds of Algerian and foreign workers. But seven of the 37 hostages who died haven't been identified yet.

And at least five people are still unaccounted for.

The operations also killed some 29 Islamists.

They came from eight countries, the Algerian government has said: Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Canada and Mauritania.

In addition to Lovelady, Americans Gordon Lee Rowan and Frederick Buttaccio also died.

Like Lovelady, Rowan too felt safe working there.

He said "we're in a compound in the middle of nowhere, and we've got security, and I'll be fine," Rowan's former neighbor, Gwen Eckholm, told CNN affiliate KNXV. "I guess you can't really be secure any place."

Seven U.S. citizens survived the crisis, the State Department said. It did not elaborate citing privacy concerns.

Lovelady is survived by his wife, daughter and a son.

"He was supposed to be back the day after my birthday," the daughter said.


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