Confusion in Nigerian govt circles over foreign hostages' killing - There is widespread confusion in Nigerian government circles over the reported killing of seven foreigners who were abducted last month by the Islamic sect Ansaru in the northern state of Bauchi.
Though the Nigerian government is yet to issue an official statement on the killing of the hostages, comments by top government officials point to total confusion over the killing.
While Interior Minister Abba Moro said it has not yet been confirmed that the hostages have been killed by their abductors, his Information counterpart Labaran Maku said he did not have the full brief on the issue.
“The claim has not been confirmed from those who claimed to have kidnapped them. And as long as the claim remains unconfirmed government would do everything possible to save their lives,' the private Nation newspaper Tuesday quoted the Interior Minister as saying in a radio interview.
The paper also quoted an unnamed government source as saying the Federal Government has not made an official statement on the “purported execution of the hostages” because it has not ascertained the truth or otherwise of it.
“We are working on various clues on the hostages. This is why the Federal Government has not spoken on the purported execution of the hostages. What we are doing now is that we are trying to locate where the hostages were killed and how to retrieve their bodies. More security operatives and intelligence officers have been drafted to Bauchi State and other suspected areas in the Northeast to verify,' the source was quoted to have said.
For its part, the Bauchi State Police Command said it had no clue on the condition of the seven foreigners.
“We don’t have any information on the hostages’ death; honestly I can’t tell you anything about it because I don’t know, we are still investigating the claims by the sect. But for now, we don’t know the situation of things,” command spokesman Hassan Mohammed said.
The confusion persists even though the sect, believed to be a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, Monday posted a video of what it said was the bodies of the foreigners - a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese - on the video-sharing site YouTube
The video, dated 9 March widely reported in the Nigerian media Tuesday, shows a gunman standing next to a pile of bodies, believed to be those of the hostages.
The video has the Arabic title, “The killing of the seven Christian hostages in Nigeria”. Ansaru said it killed the hostages in response to attempts by Britain and Nigeria to free them, even though that has been denied.
The UK, Italy and Greece have also confirmed the killings.
The foreigners were taken hostage 16 Feb from a camp of the road construction company Setraco at Jama’are, northern Bauchi State.