1. ITV Report

Hague slams 'likely murder' of British hostage in Nigeria

Online message posted by alleged Islamic extremist group. Photo: Reuters

The Foreign Secretary has condemned "in the strongest terms" the apparent "cold-blooded murder" of a British hostage and six other foreign nationals at the hands of captors in Nigeria.

William Hague said his thoughts were with the loved ones of the British construction worker, who he named as Brendan Vaughan.

Mr Hague added that the UK had "worked closely" with Nigeria over the last few weeks, and expressed his thanks to the Nigerian authorities.

Those kidnapped included three Lebanese citizens and one each from Britain, Greece, Italy and the Philippines - all employees of Setraco, a Lebanese construction company with an operation in Bauchi state, local officials said at the time.

The news comes a day after a message from Ansaru, the extremist group behind the kidnappings, which said the hostages were killed after British warplanes were reported to have been seen in the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi by local journalists.

Commenting on the claim, the Foreign Office said:

There are a number of deployments as parts of various engagements in Africa which will include the movement of assets.

The group issued a statement in Arabic and English accompanied by screen shots of a video purporting to show the dead hostages, who were kidnapped in February, SITE Monitoring Service said.

Map showing the northern Nigerian Bauchi state where seven hostages are thought to have been killed by an Islamic extremist group. Credit: ITV News

In a statement, the Italian Foreign Ministry said today it believed the seven foreign hostages have been killed.

There was no military attempt by any government to free the hostages abducted in Nigeria by an Islamist group, the foreign ministry added:

Our checks conducted in co-ordination with the other countries concerned lead us to believe that the news of the killing of the hostages seized last month is true.

It is an atrocious act of terrorism, against which the Italian Government expresses the most firm condemnation, for which it can find no explanation, except barbarous and blind violence.

The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said it believed the Greek hostage abducted has been killed, adding that they believed no operation was mounted to free the hostages.

The extremist group at no stage either communicated or expressed demands for the release of the hostages, they said in a statement.