Share This Page

Hostage deaths bode ill for Nigeria

| Sunday, March 10, 2013, 9:12 p.m.

KANO, Nigeria — Radical Islamic fighters killed seven foreign hostages in Nigeria, European diplomats confirmed on Sunday, making it the worst such kidnapping violence in decades for a country beset by extremist guerrilla attacks.

High-ranking Nigerian officials remained silent about the killings of the construction company workers, kidnapped Feb. 16 from northern Bauchi state. The government's silence only led to more questions about the nation's continued inability to halt attacks, during which hundreds have been killed in shootings, church bombings and an attack on the United Nations.

The latest victims were four Lebanese and one citizen apiece from Britain, Greece and Italy.

Britain and Italy said all seven of those taken from the Setraco construction company compound had died at the hands of Ansaru, a splinter group of the Islamist sect Boko Haram.

“It's an atrocious act of terrorism, against which the Italian government expresses its firmest condemnation, and which has no explanation,” a statement from Italy's foreign ministry said.

Italian Premier Mario Monti identified the slain Italian hostage as Silvano Trevisan and promised Rome would use “every effort” to stop the killers. British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the killings “an act of cold-blooded murder” and identified the Briton as Brendan Vaughan.

A statement from Greece's foreign ministry said authorities had already informed the hostage's family. “We note that the terrorists never communicated or formulated demands to release the hostages,” the statement said.

Ansaru issued a short statement Saturday boasting of the deaths.

Ansaru, which analysts believe split from Boko Haram in January 2012, seems to be focusing much more on Western targets. Analysts said it has closer links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and cares more about international issues, as opposed to Boko Haram's largely local grievances.

The hostage killings appear to be the worst in decades targeting foreigners working in Nigeria, an oil-rich nation that's a major crude supplier to the United States.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.