Eastern Oregon man dead after terrorist attack in Algeria

Credit: NBC News

Local news sources say rebel fighters from Mali, similar to the ones pictured here, were responsible for Gordan Rowan's death.

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by KTVB.COM and NBC News

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 8:26 AM

In Amenas, Algeria

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Sumpter, Oregon

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WASHINGTON D.C. -- One of the three American victims reportedly killed during last week's terrorist attack on an oil field in Algeria is originally from Baker County, Oregon, state officials said Monday.

U.S. Representative Greg Walden from Oregon's 2nd District said Baker County resident Gordan Rowan from Sumpter, Oregon was killed last week near a gas operation at In Amenas, close to the Libyan border.

The Associated Press reports that militants had offered to free Rowan and another American hostage in exchange for the freedom of two prominent terrorists jailed in the United States. The AP reports the offer was quickly rejected.

The three Americans were among dozens of foreign nationals kidnapped by heavily armed militants who attacked the gas field in Algeria on Wednesday, U.S. officials said.

A militant group claimed the raid was launched in retaliation for France's military intervention in neighboring Mali, Reuters reported, citing local media.

The hostage situation, described as a "terrorist attack" by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, was unfolding at a gas operation at In Amenas — a joint venture including oil giant BP, the Norwegian oil firm Statoil and the Algerian state company Sonatrach.

BP said in a statement that the site was "attacked and occupied by a group of unidentified armed people."

It's not clear how many have died in the siege of the gas field.

News media outlets say during the past week they've received reports that up to 37 foreign workers, and 29 militants had been killed throughout several days of fighting.

Following the news that Gordon Rowan, an Oregonian, was one of three Americans killed in Algeria, Congressman Greg Walden condemned the attack. He spoke with KTVB over the phone in between presidential inauguration events in Washington D.C.

"It's terrible news not only for the family, but also for the country. That once again, radical Islamic extremists have killed innocent Americans in a faraway land," Congressman Greg Walden (R-Oregon) said. "I mean, [Rowan] was just doing his job out there, trying to earn a living, and was apparently taken hostage and then killed."

Walden says this tragedy has brought to light some needs for communication that must be sorted out through diplomatic channels.

"The thing we need to find out is why the Algerian government did not apparently consult with us before they launched their attack. And I have reason to believe they did not consult with any of the countries that had hostages there. They just acted, and the result is pretty awful, in that it appears there are very few survivors, of those who were held," Walden said.

Seven Americans reportedly survived the attack. Five were brought out after the initial attack, and two survived the entire four-day crisis in an oil rig on the gas plant site.

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