A BRITISH man believed to have been one of seven foreign hostages killed by Islamic militants in Nigeria has been named as Brendan Vaughan.
Last night, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the construction worker was “likely to have been killed” by his captors in what he described as “an act of cold-blooded murder.”
In a statement released on Saturday, the group holding the foreign workers had claimed it killed the hostages in response to a rescue attempt after British military aircraft were spotted in Abuja.
However, the British government denied there had been any such attempt, saying the planes had been used to carry soldiers taking part in the French-led operation in Mali.
The hostages – from Italy, Britain, Greece and Lebanon – were captured in a raid on a construction site in the northern state of Bauchi.
In an online statement posted on Saturday, the Islamic militant group Ansaru said it had killed the captives, who had been seized last month.
Referring to what it thought had been an attempt to launch a rescue bid, the group said: “As a result of this operation, the seven hostages were killed.”
Mr Hague said: “This was an act of cold-blooded murder, which I condemn in the strongest terms. My thoughts are with [Mr Vaughan’s] family, and the families of the other hostages, who will be devastated by this tragic loss.
“Responsibility for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the terrorists. I am grateful to the Nigerian government for their unstinting help and co-operation.
“We are utterly determined to work with them to hold the perpetrators of this heinous act to account.”
As well as posting an online statement claiming to have killed the captives, Ansaru’s message included grainy pictures purporting to show the bodies of the seven – Mr Vaughan, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese workers.
It is not the first time hostages have been killed in Nigeria.
British national Chris McManus and Italian co-worker Franco Lamolinara died in a failed rescue bid in March last year as Nigerian troops and UK Special Boat Service commandos tried to end their nine months in captivity.
Ansaru said a video of the killings would be posted online. An online image accompanying the posting appeared to show a gunman standing over bodies. The attack saw gunmen first assault a local prison and burn police trucks, authorities said. Then the attackers blew up a back fence at the construction company’s compound and took over, killing a guard in the process, witnesses and police said.
The gunmen appeared to be organised and knew who they wanted to target, leaving the Nigerian staff unharmed, while the foreigners were abducted.
In January 2012, Ansaru declared itself a splinter group independent from Boko Haram, the north’s main terrorist group, analysts say.