British worker Brendan Vaughan is likely to be among seven hostages killed by a Nigerian Islamist group, Foreign Secretary William Hague has confirmed.
Mr Hague described the deaths as an “unforgiveable act of pure cold-blooded murder”, for which there was “no excuse or justification”.
“Brendan Vaughan, who was taken hostage on the 16th of February in Nigeria and has been held hostage since then, is likely to have been killed by his captors along with six other foreign nationals who were taken hostage at the same time,” he said.
“The responsibility for this tragic outcome rests solely with the terrorists who took these people hostage and now … are likely to have been murdered by them in cold blood.”
Italy’s foreign ministry released a statement which said the seven hostages, including Mr Vaughan, had been killed.
The ministry said: “Our checks conducted in coordination with the other countries concerned lead us to believe that the news of the killing of the hostages seized last month is true.”
Greek authorities have also announced that their own investigation led them to believe the Greek hostage was dead.
“The information we have shows that the Greek citizen is dead,” the foreign ministry said.
“The ministry has informed his family,” the statement added.
Mr Hague said he was “determined” to work with Nigerian authorities to find out who was responsible for the hostages’ deaths.
“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,” he added.
On Saturday, a Nigerian Islamist group said it had killed the seven hostages abducted from the compound of Setraco, a Lebanese construction company, in the town of Jama’are in Bauchi state on February 7.
The al Qaeda-linked Ansaru group, believed to be an offshoot of the larger Boko Haram, is said to be behind the abductions.
It claimed that the hostages had been killed in retaliation for a rescue attempt by the British and Nigerian governments.
British planes flew to Abuja in Nigeria to ferry troops and equipment to Bamako in Mali – which may be why there were claims the British military was involved in a rescue attempt.
The Ministry of Defence said: “There are a number of deployments as parts of various engagements in Africa which will include the movement of assets.”
The Greek foreign ministry also denied there had been a rescue attempt.
“Based on the information we have, there was no rescue operation,” it said.
Italy too rejected the claim, saying: “It’s an atrocious act of terrorism, against which the Italian government expresses its firmest condemnation, and which has no explanation, if not that of barbarous and blind violence.”
Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1062712