Abuja: Seven foreigners abducted by a radical Islamist sect in northern Nigeria are feared dead following the group`s claim of killing them.
Ansaru, a splinter group from Boko Haram, posted on its website that the hostages -- a Briton, a Greek, an Italian, one Filipino and three Lebanese -- were killed as a result of attempted rescue operations by security agencies.
"British and Nigerian security forces killed some Muslims in their attempt to rescue the Christian hostages, therefore we killed the Christians", Ansaru said in a post yesterday.
However, spokesman for the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the northern region, Col. Mohammed Yerima denied any rescue attempts by Nigerian and British forces.
The foreigners worked for a Lebanese construction firm Setraco and were abducted in mid-February.
Nigeria`s President Goodluck Jonathan early this week visited the states of Yobe and Borno, mostly affected by extremists` activities.
The President refused to offer amnesty to the groups as demanded by some elders from the region saying that they have remained faceless and have refused to communicate with the government.
Ansaru split from Boko Haram, a bigger group that recently abducted a French family of seven from Cameroon and took them to Nigeria.