British hostage likely to be dead in 'act of cold-blooded murder' by extremist group Ansaru in Nigeria says William Hague
A Nigerian Islamist militant group's claims to have killed seven foreign hostages were today described as credible by Western governments
William Hague has condemned “in the strongest terms” the apparent “cold-blooded murder” of a British hostage and six other foreign nationals at the hands of Islamist captors in Nigeria.
Western leaders denied that the men – who included a Greek, an Italian as well as four Lebanese – had died as a result of a failed rescue operation between the British and Nigerian military.
Although the death of the UK construction worker, named last night as Brendan Vaughan, is still unconfirmed, the Foreign Secretary said it was "most likely" he had perished alongside his fellow hostages.
Mr Hague said: "Responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the terrorists. I am grateful to the Nigerian Government for their unstinting help and co-operation.
"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."
The men, who were all employees of the Lebanese construction company Setraco, were seized on 16 February in a violent assault on a camp 125 miles north of the city of Bauchi. One security guard was killed although Nigerian domestic staff were left unharmed whilst foreign workers were rounded up and driven away.
The extremist group Ansaru claimed responsibility for the murders and said the atrocity was sparked by reports of British warplanes in the region. Both Italian and Greek officials denied there had been a rescue attempt and said they had received no demands for the men's safe release.
The Ministry of Defence said the planes spotted were ferrying Nigerian and other African troops and equipment from the capital Abuja to Mali to assist French forces battling Islamic extremists there. The Foreign Office said: "There are a number of deployments as parts of various engagements in Africa which will include the movement of assets."
The terrorist group also claimed that it had decided to kill the hostages after Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan said his government would do anything it could to free the captives.
Ansaru – full name Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan – is believed to be a splinter group of Boko Haram, the north's main terrorist force which is responsible for nearly 800 deaths in the past year.
Boko Haram's name translates as "Western Education is a Sin". Diplomats suspect the groups are loosely aligned to al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb which is seeking to take control of Mali.
Malaysia Airlines plane crash exposes alarming flaw in airline security: over one billion flights made last year without stolen-passport check
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Russia has made 'big miscalculation' over Ukraine warns Hague
- 5 Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...