REPATRIATION of five of six identified British hostages who were killed in the Algeria terrorist massacre has begun.

BP planning manager Kenneth Whiteside, 59, from Fife, was among five whose inquests were opened and adjourned yesterday by West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield.

The Foreign Office refused to comment on the state of repatriation for any other Britons killed by Islamic militants who stormed the remote In Amenas gas plant, deep in the Sahara desert.

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They include Carson Bilsland, 46, from Bridge of Cally, Perthshire, who was one of a large group of hostages who died as the gas plant siege came to a bloody conclusion.

Inquests also opened into the deaths of security expert Paul Morgan, 46, from Liverpool; systems supervisor Garry Barlow, 50, also from Liverpool, BP civil engineer Sebastian John, 26, from Nottingham and Colombian BP executive Carlos Estrada Valencia, 44, who lived in London. The inquest was adjourned until July 1.

At least 37 foreign workers, an Algerian national and nearly 30 militants died during the military operation to retake the gas plant, where the foreigners were being held hostage along with local workers.

Meanwhile, two guards were killed in an attack at the weekend by militants on the Ain Chikh pipeline in northern Algeria.