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LAGOS: A Nigerian Islamist group that killed seven foreign hostages it had been holding since February has posted a video of what it said were their bodies on the Internet.
Italian and Greek authorities confirmed on Sunday that a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese construction workers abducted in northern Nigeria’s Bauchi state last month had been killed by their captors.
The killings — the deadliest single attack on foreigners in Nigeria since the 1960s Biafra war — underscored the growing risks to Western interests posed by Islamists in Nigeria, who intelligence officials say have forged ties with Al Qaeda-linked groups in the Sahara desert.
Attacks by Islamists in northern Nigeria, most prominently Boko Haram, have become the main threat to the stability of Africa’s top oil producer after militants in the southeastern oil fields agreed to silence their guns under a 2009 amnesty.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was “likely” the hostages were dead, calling it “an act of cold blooded murder”. Nigerian police declined to comment and Interior Minister Aba Moro told the BBC Hausa service yesterday there was no confirmation the hostages were dead.
“As long as it remains unconfirmed, efforts will be made to ensure their rescue and security,” he said.
A spokesman for Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence said that since this was a diplomatic incident, the presidency would have to make a statement on it. The official spokesman of President Goodluck Jonathan was not immediately reachable.
The silent video published by the Al Qaeda-linked group Ansaru and dated March 9 shows a gunman standing next to a pile of bodies, then close-ups of their faces lit up by
a torch. REUTERS