At least seven hostages and 11 terrorists were killed Saturday in a final assault by Algerian army special forces on a natural gas complex seized earlier this week by an armed group, government sources told the state-run APS news agency.

They did not indicate the nationality of the hostages who died in the raid.

Minutes earlier, Algerian daily El Watan - also citing government sources - had said the seven hostages who died were the last captives being held at the remote In Amenas natural gas plant in the country's southeast, near the Libyan border.

The paper said the 11 terrorists executed the hostages before they were in turn gunned down by the security forces.

According to El Watan, the terrorists had given up all hope of leaving the gas complex and begun killing their hostages, a move that prompted the Algerian special forces to intervene.

The heavily armed militants from a Salafist group led by al Qaeda renegade Mokhtar Belmokhtar occupied the gas facility on Wednesday, taking hundreds of Algerian and foreign workers hostage.

The Salafists had offered to free several U.S. hostages in exchange for the release of two Muslim militants behind bars in the United States.

An Algerian government statement released Friday night indicated that 12 hostages, some of them foreign nationals, and 18 terrorists were killed in an initial military operation on Thursday.

In the statement, the government said that roughly 100 of the 132 foreign captives, as well as 573 Algerians, had been liberated in that same assault.

Algerian daily Al Shourouk said Saturday that seven more foreign hostages - of Japanese, Irish and Indian nationality - were freed in a military raid on Friday, but there has not yet been any official confirmation of that report. EFE