British hostage feared killed in Nigeria

Foreign Office urges media not to speculate as it investigates claims by Ansaru terrorist group

The Foreign Office was last night investigating claims that a British citizen is among seven foreign hostages, including three Lebanese citizens, and one each from Greece, Italy and the Philippines, murdered by a terrorist group in Nigeria.

The report of the killings comes almost exactly a year after a failed rescue bid by British and Nigerian forces resulted in two hostages, one a Briton, being killed by their captors.

The Ministry of Defence refused to comment on claims by the Islamist group Ansaru – linked to the extremist organisation Boko Haram – that the murders were provoked by the arrival of British fighter jets in Nigeria amid rumours of a rescue mission.

Photographs of the dead hostages, who were kidnapped from Setraco, a Lebanese construction company in the northern state of Bauchi last month, are understood to have been posted on an Islamist website by the group.

In a statement, it claimed that sightings of British military planes in the region, and a message from the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, that the government would do anything in its power to free the hostages, had triggered the decision.

"[We] announced the capture of seven Christian foreigners and warned that ... any attempt by force to rescue them will render their lives in danger," the statement said.

"The Nigerian and British government operation led to the death of all the seven Christian foreigners," it added.

Ansaru's full name is Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan, which roughly translates as "vanguards for the protection of Muslims in black Africa".

The Foreign Office stated yesterday: "We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in Nigeria and are urgently investigating". It asked "the media not to speculate at this extremely sensitive time".

Last night, Nigerian officials cast doubt on the claims by Ansaru. "As far as I'm concerned, and to the best of my knowledge, nothing like that has happened," said the Bauchi police commissioner, Mohammed Ladan.

According to news agencies, an intelligence official in the north also said he doubted the report, although he said some suspects linked to the kidnapping had been arrested last week. And Mohammed Abdullah, a spokesman for Setraco, also stated that he had heard nothing of any harm done to the hostages.

In what appeared to be a carefully planned attack, the workers had been taken during a raid on the company's compound in Jama'are, about 200 kilometres north of Bauchi, on 16 February. Gunmen first attacked a local prison, destroying police trucks, before they assaulted the compound during which a guard was killed.

The reported deaths of the hostages come a year after a bungled British-Nigerian rescue mission in Sokoto, in the north-west of Nigeria, saw two hostages, a Briton, Chris McManus, and an Italian, Franco Lamolinara, killed before special forces soldiers could get to them. Ansaru was linked to the kidnapping, which took place in May 2011.

Ansaru declared itself a splinter group independent from Boko Haram, Nigeria's main terrorist group, earlier this year, according to analysts. Boko Haram has so far been blamed for almost 800 killings last year alone.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Polish Speaking Buying Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Superb opportunity for a BUYING...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers personalise...

Recruitment Genius: Key Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A really exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Trade Operative

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An established, family owned de...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project