Italian, British hostages killed during rescue attempt
LONDON, England (BNO NEWS) -- An Italian and a British hostage, who were kidnapped in northern Nigeria last year while working for an Italian construction firm, were killed by their captors on Thursday during a joint raid by British and Nigerian forces.
British citizen Christopher McManus and Italian citizen Franco Lamolinara were kidnapped in May 2011 when gunmen stormed their apartment in Birnin Kebbi, the capital of Kebbi State in northern Nigeria. A German colleague managed to escape while a Nigerian engineer was shot and wounded.
"Since then, we have been working closely with the Nigerian authorities to try to find Chris and Franco, and to secure their release," Cameron said in a statement. "The terrorists holding the two hostages made very clear threats to take their lives, including in a video that was posted on the internet."
But after nearly a year of not knowing where they were being held, authorities received credible information about their location. "A window of opportunity arose to secure their release," Cameron said. "We also had reason to believe that their lives were under imminent and growing danger."
As a result, British and Nigerian forces launched an operation on Thursday to rescue the hostages, who had been working for Italian construction firm B. Stabilini. "It is with great regret that I have to say that both Chris and Franco have lost their lives," Cameron said. "We are still awaiting confirmation of the details, but the early indications are clear that both men were murdered by their captors, before they could be rescued."
In a separate statement, the family of McManus said they were devastated by the news. "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," the family said. "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."
Cameron said he spoke with McManus' family just before Christmas and also on Thursday to deliver the news. "Our immediate thoughts must be with Chris and Franco’s families, and we offer them our sincerest condolences," he said. "Both families have endured a terrible ordeal, and this is a devastating moment for all of them."
Kidnappings for ransom have occurred frequently in several parts of Nigeria. In late January, gunmen kidnapped a German citizen working on a construction site in the city of Kano.
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