A British and an Italian hostage held in Nigeria have been killed during a failed mission to force their release.
Construction workers Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara died during a joint rescue raid carried out by British and Nigerian special forces. It is unclear if they were shot by their captors or caught in crossfire.
Nigerian security officials say they arrested a number of kidnappers a few days ago. The rest were killed during the operation.
British Prime Minister David Cameron explained why he took the decision to launch the raid.
“A window of opportunity arose to try and secure their release,” he said. “We also had reason to believe that their lives were under imminent and growing danger. Preparations were made to mount an operation to attempt to rescue Chris and Franco together with the Nigerian government. Today I authorised it to go ahead with UK support.”
The men were seized last May in the country’s Kebbi state near Nigeria’s borders with Niger and Benin. They were held in a compound in Sokoto.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan accused the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram of carrying out the crimes.
The British decision to launch the military operation without first consulting the Italian authorities has caused anger in Rome.