Nigeria says Briton, Italian killed before rescue

The Briton and Italian kidnapped in Nigeria were abducted by a splinter cell of a radical Islamist sect, the nation`s secret police said.

Abuja: The Briton and Italian kidnapped in
Nigeria were abducted by a splinter cell of a radical Islamist
sect and executed before a failed commando rescue operation,
the nation`s secret police said on Wednesday.

Nigeria`s secretive State Security Service also said the
mastermind of the kidnapping by members of a sect known as
Boko Haram died in their custody after suffering gunshot
wounds during his arrest before the raid.

The statement by the secret police today comes nearly a
week after the failed rescue operation by British and Nigerian
commandos in Nigeria`s northwest city of Sokoto.

It also appears to try to absolve Nigerian authorities of
any responsibility over the deaths of Chris McManus and Franco
Lamolinara, who had been kidnapped in May 2011 and held for
months before their execution.

"While the service commiserates with the families of the
murdered expatriates, it wishes to reiterate that the long arm
of the law will surely catch up with terrorists and
perpetrators of evil wherever they are," read the statement by
the secret police, which has been unable to stop the growing
violence surging across Nigeria`s Muslim north.

McManus was working for the construction company B
Stabilini when he was kidnapped May 12 by gunmen who stormed
his apartment in the city of Birnin-Kebbi, about 180
kilometres away from Sokoto. Lamolinara also was abducted.

A German colleague managed to escape by scaling a wall,
but a Nigerian engineer was shot and wounded.

A video released later showed the kidnappers claiming they
belonged to al Qaeda and threatening to kill McManus and
Lamolinara if their demands were not met.

British officials worked for months trying to track down
the men as rumors floated that they had been taken out of the

In its statement, the State Security Service said three
young men watched the McManus before the abduction.

Information gathered led security forces to a house in
Zaria in central Kaduna state on March 7, where forces shot
and wounded Abu Mohammed, the mastermind of the kidnapping,
the secret police said.

A soldier was killed in that operation and apparently one
sect member escaped, the service said. Another sect member led
authorities to the Mabera neighbourhood of Sokoto, where the
hostages were being held, the secret police said.

However, the statement said it was too late to save the