Sunday, March 11, 2012

British, Italian hostages killed in failed rescue in Nigeria

Vanguard (AFP)
8 March 2012

Nigeria (AFP) – A Briton and an Italian held hostage in Birnin Kebbi, capital of Kebbi state, Nigeria since May last year have been killed in a failed operation to rescue them, the British and Italian governments said on Thursday.

The rescue operation had been carried out by Nigerian security forces under British operational control, according to a statement from Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s office.

His British counterpart David Cameron’s office confirmed that the deaths had occurred “during an attempted rescue operation”.

“We are still awaiting confirmation of the details, but the early indications are clear that both men were murdered by their captors, before they could be rescued,” David Cameron said in a statement.

Cameron said credible information had been received about the location of Chris McManus and his Italian colleague Franco Lamolinara, who were seized by gunmen in May 2011.

“Preparations were made to mount an operation to attempt to rescue Chris and Franco. Together with the Nigerian government, today I authorised it to go ahead, with UK support,” he said.

“It is with great regret that I have to say that both Chris and Franco have lost their lives.”

Cameron said the two men had been held by “terrorists”, who had made “very clear threats to take their lives”.

In a video received by a Mauritanian news agency and seen by AFP in December, masked gunmen threatened to execute the British hostage if their demands were not met.

The Mauritanian agency claimed that the captors belong to a Nigerian group inspired by Al-Qaeda.

Cameron did not specify the identify of the kidnappers.

The Italian government also confirmed that the two hostages were dead.

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