Britain, Italy and Greece on Sunday reacted to the claim by a Nigerian Islamist group that it had killed seven foreign hostages because of a reported joint Nigerian-British military operation intended to free the hostages.
In a statement yesterday, British Foreign Minister William Hague said, “It is with deep sadness that I must confirm that a British construction worker, held hostage in Nigeria since 16 February, is likely to have been killed at the hands of his captors, along with six other foreign nationals who we believe were also tragically murdered. This was an act of cold-blooded murder, which I condemn in the strongest terms.”
Without directly addressing the rescue mission claim, Hague said, “Responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the terrorists. I am grateful to the Nigerian Government for their unstinting help and cooperation. We are utterly determined to work with them to hold the perpetrators of this heinous act to account, and to combat the terrorism which so blights the lives of people in Northern Nigeria and in the wider region.”
Italy’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “It’s an atrocious act of terrorism, against which the Italian government expresses its firmest condemnation, and which has no explanation, if not that of barbarous and blind violence.” In the same vein, Italian Premier Mario Monti identified the slain Italian hostage as Silvano Trevisan and promised the Rome government will use “every effort” to stop the killers.
In its own response to the killings, Greece’s foreign ministry said one of its citizens was among the dead, and that his captors “at no stage either communicated or expressed demands for the release of the hostages.”
It would be recalled that on February 16, gunmen stormed a Setraco compound in Jama’are, Bauchi and killed the security man on guard before abducting the seven expatriate workers made up of citizens of Britain, Greece, Lebanon and Italy. Ansaru later claimed they were attacked because of France’s military intervention in Mali.