By Maram Mazen
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan accused the militant Islamist group Boko Haram of killing a British and an Italian hostage yesterday during a failed attempt by U.K. and Nigerian forces to rescue them.
The hostages, Chris McManus, a British citizen, and Franco Lamolinara, an Italian, were killed “by their Boko Haram captors before they could be rescued by a joint security raid on the kidnappers’ hideout” in the northern state of Sokoto, Jonathan’s office said in a statement late yesterday from Abuja, the capital.
Authorities in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, blame Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” for a surge in gun and bomb attacks in the country’s mainly Muslim north that have claimed hundreds of lives since 2009.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that he authorized a rescue attempt and that in the course of the operation both men died. The hostages were kidnapped in May 2011.
Cameron called his Italian counterpart, Mario Monti, afterwards to inform him of the outcome.
“After months of not knowing where they were being held, we received credible information about their location,” Cameron said in a statement. “A window of opportunity arose to secure their release. We also had reason to believe that their lives were under imminent and growing danger. The early indications are clear that both men were murdered by their captors, before they could be rescued.”
Monti called Jonathan to ask him to provide Italy with a “detailed account” of the circumstances that led to the deaths of the hostages, according to a statement from his office in Rome. The Italian government said Nigerian troops took the lead in the mission, with U.K. personnel in support.
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