Nigerian leader takes blame for hostage deaths
Responsibility is shared – but President insists that held men were about to be moved from country
The President of Nigeria has said he bore some of the responsibility for the deaths of two hostages killed when his troops, alongside British special forces, attempting to rescue them. However, Goodluck Jonathan insisted it was vital to mount the operation because the captives were about to be taken out of the country by the Islamist group holding them.
The mission, ordered by David Cameron, involved members of the Special Boat Service storming the kidnappers hideout in the city of Sokoto. The men being held, Briton Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara, were both shot dead.
Rome accused the UK of not informing them before taking military action. Mario Monti's government announced an inquiry would be carried out to ascertain what went wrong.
It was also claimed in Italy that negotiations were under way to pay the abductors a ransom for Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara to be freed and progress was being made when the failed attack took place.
President Jonathan said yesterday: "We worked with the international intelligence system. If there was success, there would have been a collective glory. Since we did not quite succeed, well, we all take responsibility. So I cannot say I will not take part of that responsibility: yes, I do. I'm the president of the country."
He stressed that the decision was taken to launch the operations after telephone intercepts suggested the two men were about to be moved out of the country. Boko Haram, the fundamentalist group to which the kidnappers belonged, are believed to have strong ties with al-Qa'ida in the Maghreb, which had murdered a number of Western hostages.
Speaking to CNN, Mr Jonathan said "I am not aware of any demand for a ransom, or of any ransom payment having been made. In this particular case, no family member informed security agencies that they (the captors) had reached out to them for a ransom. This is not something we know about."
The location where the hostages were being kept was discovered after the arrest of a number of Boko Haram militants. Nigerian authorities disclosed yesterday that the alleged ringleader of the kidnap plot, Abu Mohammed, had died of gunshot wounds sustained when he was being captured.
Five men detained at the same time as Abu Mohammed were paraded in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, with swollen faces. A police spokesman said: "These men will soon go on trial. The information we gained from them when they were found in Zaria, in the Kaduna State, led to the two [European] prisoners. We have strong evidence to convict these men of the crime they have committed."
Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara, both engineers, were abducted from their apartment in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, on 12 May, 2011.
That's some guestlist! Stunning images show huge dynastic wedding between Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families which attracted 25,000 guests
Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity
Two bailed after arrest over Woolwich attack Twitter comments
Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
Men arrested after RAF jet is scrambled to escort Pakistan Airlines passenger plane to Stansted
- 1 Liam Gallagher slams Daft Punk: 'I could have written Get Lucky in an hour'
- 2 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 3 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Two bailed after arrest over Woolwich attack Twitter comments
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.