As security agencies intensified their search for members of a terrorist group Ansaru, an offshoot of Boko Haram that claimed to have killed the seven hostages in its custody, Britain, Greece and Italy confirmed on Sunday the death of their citizens who were among the abducted construction workers.
The terrorists, who abducted the seven foreign construction workers from the Setraco Construction Company camp at Jama’are, Bauchi State, on February 16, said on Saturday that the hostages have been killed. The seven hostages from Britain, Greece, Italy and Lebanon were seized in a raid from a construction site belonging to Setraco. The raid also resulted in the death of a security guard.
According to the Islamist terror group, the hostages were killed because of a rescue attempt by British and Nigerian forces. But British officials said they were not aware of any such attempt. The message from Ansaru included photographs purporting to show a gunman standing over at least one body, although these could not be verified. Given the confusion arising from Ansaru’s claim, as there was no independent confirmation of the killing, the foreign governments launched investigations to ascertain the veracity of Ansaru’s claim.
The British Foreign Secretary, Mr. William Hague, confirmed what he said was the likely murder of the British national alongside six other foreigners by the Islamic militants. He also offered Britain’s support to Nigeria to arrest and bring to book those behind the dastardly murder and to combat terrorism in Nigeria and the region. According to a statement by the Political and Press Secretary of the British High Commission in Abuja, Mr. Hooman Nouruzi, the foreign secretary expressed condolences to the families of all the hostages.
The statement read: “It is with deep sadness that I must confirm that a British construction worker, held hostage in Nigeria since 16 February, is likely to have been killed at the hands of his captors, along with six other foreign nationals who we believe were also tragically murdered. This was an act of cold-blooded murder, which I condemn in the strongest terms.
“My thoughts are with his family, and the families of the other hostages, who will be devastated by this tragic loss. I offer them our deep condolences at this terrible time, and know that the thoughts of people up and down our country will be with them. I ask the media to allow them time to come to terms with their loss in privacy.
“Responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the terrorists. I am grateful to the Nigerian Government for their unstinting help and cooperation.
“We are utterly determined to work with them to hold the perpetrators of this heinous act to account, and to combat the terrorism which so blights the lives of people in Northern Nigeria and in the wider region.”