Thirty-four hostages and 14 of their captors were reportedly killed in an air raid on Thursday afternoon by the Algerian armed forces, Mauritania’s ANI news agency reported.
The agency has close ties to the militant group, a subsidiary of the Katibat Moulathamine (Masked Brigade) known as Those Who Signed in Blood, and news agencies have so far been unable to confirm the reports.
The Algerian military also reportedly destroyed vehicles used by the kidnappers.
A spokesman for the group claimed the kidnappers would kill the remaining hostages if the Algerian army approached.
The head of the group, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, is a veteran of Algeria’s civil war and the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The UN designated him an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist in 2003.
Belmokhtar is involved in extensive criminal activity, according to the UN, including kidnapping, gunrunning, smuggling and murder.