At least 20 foreign hostages, including some Americans, escaped Thursday from an Al Qaeda-linked group who had taken over an Algerian natural gas complex in the Sahara desert, a security official reported.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Some of the Americans believed to have escaped have called home to their families, U.S. official sources tell Fox News.

The U.S. State Department is working to account for all of the Americans reported missing.

According to reports, the man claiming responsibility for the attack is

a veteran militant named Mokhtar Belmokhtar. He was nicknamed "Mr. Marlboro" for his suspected involvement in widespread smuggling, including cigarettes, over the years.

Watch Greg Palkot's report:

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