Two hostages, a Briton and an Italian, abducted and taken hostage by gunmen in Nigeria last year have lost their lives in a failed rescue attempt, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced.
Mr. Cameron said it appeared Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara had been “murdered by their captors” suspected to be members of the extremist group, Boko Haram, before the Nigerian-led rescue operation supported by British forces, could rescue them.
“It strongly appears that the hostage-takers shot the hostages,” a source said.
The Federal Government and its British counterpart decided to embark on the rescue mission following a tip off on the location of the two engineers abducted from their hotel rooms in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi state on May 12, 2011.
Mr. Cameron, who thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for all the government had done to find and secure the safe release of the hostages, said terrorism and other crimes as kidnapping are becoming a scourge on the world.
President Jonathan has already announced that the men’s captors had been arrested. Sky news said there were no fatalities on the British and Nigerian forces’ side, but there were several fatalities among the hostage-takers.
The Briton’s family said how devastated they were by his death, pointing out that during the period they were still being held hostage, they relied heavily on the support of their families and friends to go through the most difficult of times.
“We knew Chris was in an extremely dangerous situation,” the family said. “However, we knew that everything that could be done was being done.”
Mr. McManus and Mr. Lamolinara had been involved in the construction of the headquarters for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Kebbi state by B Stabilini, an Abuja-based Italian construction firm.
Another Italian employee managed to escape during the kidnapping, but a Nigerian neighbour who came to help was shot and wounded.
Since the incident, it was gathered that the UK Foreign Office had been working behind the scenes to try to secure the men’s release.
A video released to news media last year appeared to have shown the men blindfolded with their arms behind them, while masked men stood behind them in the footage.
aIn September 2008, two Britons were held by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), the umbrella body of all militant groups in the Niger Delta campaigning for a fair share of the oil resources in Nigeria.
In April 2009, a Scottish oil worker was abducted and his guard killed in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, while three Britons and a Colombian were kidnapped in January 2010.
Similarly, four men, from the US, Canada and France, were kidnapped in November of the same year, and taken 7.5 miles offshore on the Okoro field.
In January last year, two French hostages were kidnapped from Niamey, the capital of neighbouring Niger to Nigeria’s north.