Seven foreign hostages were killed in Nigeria by an Islamist group, according to the Italian and Greek foreign ministries on Sunday.
The seven foreign hostages were taken from a construction company compound last month. Ansaru, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, announced that it killed the hostages after attempts by Nigerian and British forces to free them.
The hostages were taken on February 16 by the group, which publish grainy photos showing the bodies of the dead hostages. Of the workers taken, one was Briton, one Italian, one Greek, and four were Lebanese. They were taken from Setraco, a Lebanese firm.
Foreign governments were initially unable to confirm the deaths but were finally able to do so. However, they denied there had been an effort to rescue them made by any of the governments involved.
The Italian Foreign Ministry released a statement about the foreign hostages being killed, saying:
“Our checks conducted in coordination with the other countries concerned lead us to believe that the news of the killing of the hostages seized last month is true. There was never any military attempt to rescue the hostages by any of the governments concerned.”
The Nigerian government was silent about the deaths of the seven foreign hostages, leading to questions about the country’s continued inability to halt attacks of this kind. Several hundred people have been killed in shootings, church bombings, and an assault on the United Nations.
Italian Premier Mario Monti promised that Rome will use “every effort” to stop the killers. British Foreign Secretary William Hague also released a statement about the hostages’ deaths, calling them “an act of cold-blooded murder.” Ansaru, the group who claimed responsibility for the deaths, first assaulted a local prison and burned police trucks.
They then stormed the construction compound and killed a guard in the process of taking the seven foreign hostages. The group released a statement on Saturday that claimed the workers were killed. They cited a local news station, which reported that British military aircraft had arrived in the area where the hostages were being kept.
Ansaru believed the planes were part of an intended rescue operation. But the UK Defense Ministry stated the planes were ferrying Nigerian troops and equipment to nearby Mali, where coalition forces are currently fighting radical Islamists.
Ansaru later posted a video online showing the seven hostages killed.
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