Islamist sect blamed for Nigeria kidnappings

A Briton and Italian were abducted by a splinter cell of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram and executed before a failed operation to rescue them, Nigeria's State Security Service said yesterday.

It also confirmed that the mastermind of the kidnapping died in custody after suffering being shot during his arrest before the raid. The secret police's statement, nearly a week after the failed rescue bid by British and Nigerian commandos in the north-western city of Sokoto, also purported to absolve Nigerian officials of any responsibility over the deaths of Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, who were kidnapped in May 2011. A spokesman for Boko Haram has denied it was involved.