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British and Italian hostages killed in Nigeria by Islamist Group

March 8, 2012

David Cameron says British construction worker and Italian colleague appear to have been murdered before rescue mission. A British construction worker and an Italian colleague have been murdered by terrorists in north west Nigeria after being taken hostage in May last year.

David Cameron confirmed the death of Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, who were working for an Italian construction firm, after authorising a rescue mission.

The prime minister said it appeared the two men were murdered by their captors before they could be rescued. The captors posted a video, featuring the men, which warned that they would be killed.

In a statement, Cameron said: “Our immediate thoughts must be with Chris and Franco’s families, and we offer them our sincerest condolences. Both families have endured a terrible ordeal, and this is a devastating moment for all of them.”

McManus, a contract worker for the construction company B. Stabilini, was kidnapped by gunmen last year. Raiders stormed his apartment in Birnin-Kebbi, in the north west of the country, and captured him along with Lamolinara. A German colleague managed to escape by scaling a wall but a Nigerian engineer was shot and wounded in the raid.

Cameron said that earlier on Thursday he authorised British involvement in the rescue of the two hostages after “credible information” was received about their location. But early indications suggest they had been killed before they could be rescued.

The prime minister said: “After months of not knowing where they were being held, we received credible information about their location. A window of opportunity arose to secure their release.

“We also had reason to believe that their lives were under imminent and growing danger. 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.”

Cameron added that the Foreign Office have been in contact with McManus’s family since his capture in May last year. He spoke to them just before Christmas and has conveyed to them the news of his death.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the Nigerian authorities, and President Jonathan personally, for all they have done to help find Chris, and combat terrorism. I also want to pay tribute to all those, including UK personnel, who worked so hard to try to bring Chris home safely. I am very sorry that this ended so tragically.

“I ask that the media respect the family’s privacy and allow them time to come to terms with their loss. Terrorism and appalling crimes such as these are a scourge on our world. No one should be in any doubt about our determination to fight and to defeat them.”

Christopher McManus, the British hostage killed in Nigeria
Christopher McManus, the British hostage killed in Nigeria. The photograph has been chosen by the family for use by the media. Photograph: handout

McManus’s parents spoke of their devastation at his death. In a statement issued by the Foreign Office, his parents said: “Our son Chris was abducted in northern Nigeria on 12 May last year. As a family, we are of course devastated by the news of Chris’ death which we received earlier today. During this ordeal we have relied heavily on the support of our family and friends which has never waned and has enabled us to get through the most difficult of times.”

They thanked the British and Nigerian authorities for attempting to launch a rescue mission. “We are also aware of the many people who were working to try and have Chris returned to our family, and his girlfriend. We would like to thank all of them for their efforts.

“We knew Chris was in an extremely dangerous situation. However we knew that everything that could be done was being done.”

McManus’s parents paid tribute to his Italian colleague and asked for their privacy to be respected. “Our thoughts are also of course with the loved ones of Chris’s colleague, Franco Lamolinara, who are also coming to terms with this truly sad news.

“We now need time to grieve and come to terms with our loss. We would therefore be grateful if you would respect our privacy at this most difficult of times.”

In December last year, a Nigerian group calling itself “al–Qaida in the land beyond the Sahil” announced it had captured McManus.

It released a hostage video to Nouakchott News Agency claiming it had kidnapped the Briton and showed a blindfolded and bearded man in an orange vest.

Three men in dark clothing stood behind him armed with rifles and a machete. It was reported that the man pictured in the video called for the British government to respond to the demands of the group, so they would spare his life. He also asked for the British people to pressure the government to answer the demands of the group so he could return to his family.

There have been a number of foreigners kidnapped while working in Nigeria in recent years.

In September 2008 two Britons were held by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta. A Scottish oil worker was abducted and his guard killed in April 2009, in the Rivers State capital Port Harcourt. Three Britons and a Colombian were kidnapped in January 2010 and in November of the same year, four men from the US, Canada and France were taken seven and half 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.

Cameron called Italian prime minister Mario Monti to inform him of the “tragic conclusion” of the operation, a statement from the Italian government said.

Culled from Guardian Newspaper, UK

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