9 Mar 2012

Italian, British hostages killed in Nigeria

12:05 pm on 9 March 2012

An Italian and Briton kidnapped in May in Nigeria have been killed by their captors during a joint raid by British and Nigerian forces in an operation to free them, Italy's government says.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he had authorised Britain's involvement in the rescue attempt after being told the men's lives were in "imminent and growing danger".

Franco Lamolinara and Briton Christopher McManus were working for a construction company when they were seized in May from their accommodation in Kebbi state, near Nigeria's northwestern borders with Niger and Benin.

A senior official at Nigeria's State Security Service said the hostage takers were a faction of militant Islamist sect Boko Haram that had made links with al Qaeda's north African wing.

The official said they shot their captors before the rescue team entered the compound.

A witness told Reuters security forces tried to force their way into a compound in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria. The witness said people inside the house fired at the security forces and gunfire was exchanged for some time.

The State Security Service official said that "all the terrorists were killed."