Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group seeking to carve out a separate Islamic state in Nigeria, has announced that it has executed seven “foreign Christians.” In recent months, Boko Haram has started to target foreigners in Nigeria for kidnapping. The group claimed that if any rescue attempt was made on these severn hostages, the group would deal with them harshly. Will the world now label Boko Haram a foreign terrorist group?
3/10/2013 Nigeria (Telegraph) – Kidnappers executed a British engineer and six expatriate colleagues abducted in northern Nigeria after an alleged attempt to rescue them, an al-Qaeda-allied Islamist group claimed on Saturday.
Screenshots of a video purporting to show the dead hostages were uploaded to a jihadist website with a statement in Arabic and English, the SITE Monitoring Service reported.
Ansaru, a fundamentalist outfit with a rising profile in the area, claimed responsibility for the kidnap, saying it was in response to European countries’ operations in Mali and Afghanistan.
“(We) announced the capture of seven Christians foreigners and warned that should there be any attempt by force to rescue them will render their lives in danger,” Ansaru said in its statement.
“The Nigeria and British government operation lead to the death of all the seven Christians foreigners.”
British and Nigerian officials separately denied that there had been any mission to rescue the hostages, from Britain, Italy, Greece and Lebanon.
“There is nothing that is true about that, we have not attempted any operation and these people are spreading lies to win support from disaffected young people in our country,” a Nigerian government spokesman said.
Five British military aircraft reportedly seen at the international airport in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, last month were in the country for “routine military-to-military engagement” and not for any reason connected to the kidnap, the British High Commissioner in Abuja told Nigerian media last month.
The seven foreigners were kidnapped last month from the compound of their employer, a Lebanese construction contractor, in one of the worst attacks on international workers in Nigeria.
The country’s majority-Muslim north has experienced a wave of such incidents, carried out by fundamentalists campaigning to impose strict Islamic law on the region.
Chris McManus, a British contract worker for an Italian company, died on March 8 last year in a failed SBS mission to rescue him.
He had been held hostage in northern Nigeria for 10 months, and it is believed that Ansaru were also behind his abduction.
Since McManus and his Italian colleague were kidnapped, at least other 15 foreigners are being held hostage in northern Nigeria, including a French family with their four children seized in neighbouring Cameroon last month.
Days earlier, attackers killed three North Korean doctors in Potiskum in northern Nigeria.
Ansaru is a splinter of Nigeria’s best-known fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, and is believed to have close ties to Islamists in northern Mali.