Italy, Greece say hostages in Nigeria killed
ROME (AFP) - Italy and Greece on Sunday said that foreign hostages held in Nigeria were likely killed, as an Islamist group claimed after they were abducted from a construction site last month.
"The verifications carried out in coordination with the other interested countries lead us to believe that the news of the killing of the hostages is founded," the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement.
"This is a horrific act of terrorism for which there is no explanation except barbaric and blind violence," it said.
"No military intervention to free the hostages was ever attempted by the interested government," it said, adding that the killings were "the aberrant expression of a hateful and intolerable fanaticism."
Nigerian Islamist group Ansaru on Saturday claimed to have killed seven foreign hostages abducted from a construction site last month in the country's restive north, SITE Intelligence Group said.
Greece's foreign ministry too said that a Greek hostage was likely dead.
"The available information suggests that the Greek citizen abducted in Nigeria alongside six nationals of other countries is dead," the ministry said in a statement.
"The foreign minister has communicated with the victim's mother to express his grief," it said.
The ministry declined to give further information on the hostage.
Police last month said the victims of the February 16 kidnapping in Bauchi state included four Lebanese, one Briton, a Greek citizen and an Italian. A company official later said the Middle Eastern hostages included two Lebanese and two Syrians.
Ansaru, considered a splinter faction of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping two days after the abduction.