Officials: Jefferson County man among hostages in Algeria

January 19, 2013 8:07:47 PM PST
Three Texas natives were caught in the middle of a hostage situation overseas.

One local man is dead, officials said, and two other Americans are unaccounted for, but others were free Saturday after the hostage situation at a natural gas facility in Algeria came to an end.

Algeria's military moved in with a fierce assault on the hostage takers. We're told all 32 militants were killed.

But at least 23 hostages also died, including one American -- 58-year old Fred Buttaccio of Katy.

Buttaccio is being remembered for his "loving heart, caring nature" and sense of humor.

Buttaccio's family says in a statement Saturday it had been informed by the State Department that their loved one had been killed.

U.S. officials said Buttaccio's remains were recovered Friday.

His family says Buttaccio "spent a lifetime experiencing the world and always respecting everyone he met, no matter their position, culture, or religion. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all families impacted by this ordeal."

Family and friends in Jefferson County are still waiting to hear about a Nederland man who was also taken hostage.

"As we go throughout the coming days, let us each and every day remember them," Father Dan Malain said.

Malain's congregation at St. Charles Catholic Church prays for the parishioner who is involved in the Algerian hostage situation more than 5,500 miles away.

"It's terrorism reaching into a little town in southeast Texas, and so it certainly grabs everybody's attention and moves their hearts," Malain said.

BP has not been able to confirm the man's condition, but said he is possibly a contract worker for the company.

Eyewitness News has spoken to the man's family in Nederland. His brother says the state department contacted them Friday and told them he is safe, but the family hasn't heard anything since then.

"Everybody knows the family that's involved in this terrible situation, so people are praying always wondering what's the latest news," Malain said.

For now, the small community anxiously awaits more details and sends prayers.

"We have to lift them up in prayer and try to be supporting and recognize their need for privacy to deal with their own hopes and fears, and let our prayers strengthen them," Malain said.

That worker from Nederland lived in Houston before he went to Algeria, we're told. His Houston neighbors are also hoping for his safe return home.

"Hopefully our government steps in and does something about it," Art Chavez said. "I think protection is much needed out there for the expats."

Chavez says he's been overseas himself, and he believes Americans abroad need more security.

ABC News is reporting the third Texas native held hostage made it out safely.

Mark Cobb of Corpus Christi is a senior manager for BP at the facility in Algeria. He was able to escape with members of his Algerian staff and is safe.

President Barack Obama says the U.S. will provide whatever assistance officials need in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Algeria. He blamed the deaths of the 23 hostages on the terrorists who carried out the attacks and condemned their actions.

The president says the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the families of all those who were killed and injured. Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for updates on the end of the hostage situation in Algeria. We'll update you on air and online as new details are confirmed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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