The Guardian (UK)
11 March 2012
Extremists given part of ransom before failed attempt to rescue British and Italian hostages, agency reports
Tom Kington in
Ransom money was paid to the Islamic extremists holding British and Italian hostages in
before British special forces tried to rescue them from their compound, a news agency has claimed. Nigeria
Part of a €1.2m ransom was paid to release hostages Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, who were killed during the raid on Thursday which sparked a diplomatic row.
The ransom talks, in which both British and Italian officials had participated, began with a request for €5m and the release of prisoners, the Mauritanian agency reported, quoting sources close to the extremists. During the talks, questions were sent to the kidnappers for the hostages to answer about their families to prove they were still alive.
The British took a tougher line in negotiations than the Italians and demands eventually settled on €1.2m and no prisoner release, it is alleged. After a downpayment, British and Nigerian operatives were able to follow the extremists back to their hideout, setting up the raid.
The Italian foreign ministry declined to comment on the report. The Italians protested that
London failed to inform them of the raid until it was under way President Giorgio Napolitano called Britain 's unilateral action "inexplicable".