Killers of Briton, Italian will face the law – JonathanBy John Bulus with agency reports
Birnin-Kebbi - Two hostages, a Briton and an Italian, who were kidnapped in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State and held hostage since last May by Islamic sect, Boko Haram, have been killed in an attempted rescue operation in Sokoto.
In his immediate reaction, President Goodluck Jonathan, who condemned the killing of the two kidnapped foreigners before they could be rescued by a joint security raid, however, said those who were responsible had been arrested
Jonathan “condemned the killing of two kidnapped foreigners — an Italian and a British citizen — in Sokoto state Thursday by their Boko Haram captors before they could be rescued by a joint security raid on the kidnappers’ hideout,” a statement from his office said.
The statement added: “The president, who particularly commended the cooperation and understanding of the British and Italian governments, assured that the perpetrators of the murderous act, who have all been arrested, would be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti phoned Jonathan to ask him to provide “a detailed reconstruction” of events leading up to the shooting of the hostages, his office in Rome said.
But former Italian prime minister Massimo d’Alema, who is now in charge of a parliamentary committee dealing with security issues, criticized the attempted rescue operation, which he said was apparently mounted by British and Nigerian forces without Italy being notified.
The effort to free Chris McManus, from the North West of England, and his colleague Franco Lamolinara was launched by British special forces and the Nigerian army.
Sky sources said there were no fatalities on the British and Nigerian forces' side but there were several fatalities among the hostage-takers.
A foreign agency reporter saw an ambulance ferrying away wounded people, but could not get close enough to see who was inside. Security forces cordoned off the area, blocking journalists from getting within a kilometer (around a half mile) of the site.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the pair appeared to have died at the hands of their captors, either before or during the course of the rescue bid.
Sky sources said it was believed there was a fight and during the assault the UK and Nigerian forces could not get to Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara in time.
The sources said: "It strongly appears that the hostage-takers shot the hostages."
The rescue bid was launched after the UK received credible information about their whereabouts and that their lives were under increasing threat.
Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara were "taken hostage by terrorists" in northern Nigeria May last year.
He said: "Since then, we have been working closely with the Nigerian authorities to try to find Chris and Franco, and to secure their release. The terrorists holding the two hostages made very clear threats to take their lives, including in a video that was posted on the internet.
"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. It is with great regret that I have to say that both Chris and Franco have lost their lives.
"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."
He added: "Our immediate thoughts must be with Chris and Franco's families, and we offer them our sincerest condolences."
The Italian government also confirmed that th two hostages were dead
Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara – contract workers for the construction company B Stabilini, were kidnapped by gunmen who stormed the apartment they shared in Birnin-Kebbi. The two men were in the city building a bank.
…kills DPO, three policemen
Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen, suspected to be adherents of Boko Haram Islamic sect, Wednesday night, attacked yet another police station located in Gombe State, killing four officers including the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in charge of the station, Superintendent Abubarkar Sadiq.
The attack occurred at the popular Ashaka Cement Factory in Bajoga town, Funakaye Local Government of the state.
The Gombe Divisional Police Station in the state capital was attacked penultimate Friday resulting in the killing of some officers and a few civilians in the process.
Eye-witnesses said the gunmen also attacked two commercial banks in the vicinity at about 7. 30pm.
The assailants allegedly used Improvised Explosives Devices, IEDs and a hand grenade in the attack.
The Gombe State Police Relations Officer, PPRO, ASP Ahmed Abubarkar confirmed the attack, yesterday.
"Last night, there was an attack at Bajoga out-station. As a result of the attack, four people lost their lives. They included the DPO, Bagoja, Abuabarkar Sadiq.
''When the Police of Commissioner received information about the incident, he quickly went to Mobile Police Unit, MOPOL, and drafted the Amoured Personnel Carrier, APC to the scene.
"Already, we have a Quick Response Squad, QRS, for such a situation. They were able to reach there on time to bring the situation under control. Right now, our men are there and will continue to be there until the situation improves.
''The gunmen also attacked two banks but we could not ascertain whether their vaults were opened or not because there were remnants of the explosives and right now, our anti-bombs squad are there to detonate the remaining ones. Investigation is still on-going."
Many had feared that the attack at the early stage was directed at the Ashaka Cement Factory which is centre of commercial activities in the area, but the PPRO said the factory was not attacked.
The tense security situation in the state prompted the imposition of 24 hours curfew which was only relaxed by some hours on Monday.
Several Western hostages abducted in the Sahel and Nigeria have been killed over recent years by their captors during their kidnapping or their captivity:
- June 3, 2009: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) says it has killed Briton Edwin Dyer. He was one of a group of Westerners kidnapped by Islamic extremists in the Sahel region on the border between Mali and Niger in December 2008 and January 2009. Three other European tourists, two Swiss and one German, are freed in April and July.
- July 25, 2010: AQIM says that it has killed French hostage Michel Germaneau, kidnapped in northern Niger on April 19 and transferred to Mali, in revenge for the killing of seven comrades in a failed Mauritanian-French rescue raid.
- January 8, 2011: Two young Frenchmen — Antoine De Leocour and Vincent Delory — are killed a day after being kidnapped from a restaurant in central Niamey and transferred to Mali. Their bodies are found after a desert rescue operation bid by the Niger military.
- November 25, 2011: A German is killed and three other foreigners abducted in the centre of the ancient tourist city of Timbuktu in northern Mali. The victim is shot dead after trying to resist his abduction. AQIM, which claims responsibility for the abductions, threatens to kill the other three hostages, one of whom is Swedish, one Dutch and one of dual British-South African nationality.
- March 8, 2012: A Briton and an Italian — Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara — who were seized by gunmen in May 2011 — are killed by their captors before the men can be rescued in a Nigerian military operation backed operationally by Britain. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says the pair was murdered by the resurgent Islamist group Boko Haram.