• William Hague describes killings as ‘act of cold-blooded murder’
  • Video released by radical Islamist group Ansaru emerged yesterday
  • His name has been confirmed as Brendan Vaughan
  • Blamed execution on fears Britain was about to stage rescue operation
  • Hostages were seized on February 16 from a construction company

By
Nick Fagge

15:17, 10 March 2013


|

01:54, 11 March 2013

Shot dead: British engineer Brendan Vaughan was murdered 'in cold blood' in Nigeria by Al Qaeda kidnappers

Shot dead: British engineer Brendan Vaughan was murdered ‘in cold blood’ in Nigeria by Al Qaeda kidnappers

This is the first picture of the British engineer murdered alongside his six colleagues ‘in cold blood’ in Nigeria by their Al Qaeda kidnappers.

It is thought the terrorists feared British Special Forces were about to launch a mission to free them.

Brendan Vaughan, 55, is believed to have been shot dead by members of the Ansaru Islamist group, who abducted the construction workers from a compound in the town of Jama’are, in Bauchi state, north-east Nigeria on February 16.

Images of gunmen standing over the
dead hostages were posted on a jihadist website on Saturday with a
statement by the fanatics claiming they had killed their captives after
learning of a ‘Nigerian and British government operation’ to free them.

The Nigerian media had mistakenly reported that RAF planes had flown
into the capital Abuja as part of an operation to free the hostages.

They were in fact part of the offensive against Islamists in Mali.

The Foreign Office and the Nigerian government denied that troops had
tried to rescue the hostages – who also included an Italian, a Greek, a
Filipino and three Lebanese.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: ‘’It is with deep sadness that I must confirm
that a British construction worker, held hostage in Nigeria since 16
February, is likely to have been killed at the hands of his captors,
along with six other foreign nationals who we believe were also
tragically murdered.

‘This was an act of cold-blooded murder, which I condemn in the strongest terms.

‘My thoughts are with his family, and the families of the other hostages, who will be devastated by this tragic loss.

‘I
offer them our deep condolences at this terrible time, and know that
the thoughts of people up and down our country will be with them.

‘I ask the media to allow them time to come to terms with their loss in privacy.

Scroll down for video

Online: A video grab taken from a video posted online by Islamist terror group Ansaru, claiming that they had killed seven hostages captured in February from a construction company operating in northern Nigeria

Online: A video was posted online by Islamist terror group Ansaru, claiming that they had killed seven hostages captured in February from the site of a construction company operating in northern Nigeria. The image has not been independently verified.

Operation: Reports appeared in a local Nigerian website two weeks ago saying that five British planes were spotted at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and linking them to a rescue operation for the hostages

Operation: Reports appeared on a local Nigerian website two weeks ago saying that five British planes were spotted at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and linking them to a rescue operation for the hostages

‘Responsibility
for this tragic outcome rests squarely with the terrorists. I am
grateful to the Nigerian Government for their unstinting help and
co-operation.

‘We are
utterly determined to work with them to hold the perpetrators of this
heinous act to account, and to combat the terrorism which so blights the
lives of people in Northern Nigeria and in the wider region.’

Later,
after Mr Vaughan’s name was confirmed, he tweeted: ‘Sadly we believe
British hostage Brendan Vaughan has been killed by his terrorist captors
in Nigeria, in an act of cold-blooded murder.

‘My thoughts are with Brendan Vaughan’s family and friends, as they come to terms with this tragedy.

‘We will work with Nigeria and other affected countries to bring his killers to justice and tackle terrorism in the region.’

Foreign Secretary William Hague called Mr Vaughan's murder. He also vowed to work with the Nigerian government to bring the killers to justice

Foreign Secretary William Hague called Mr Vaughan’s murder. He also vowed to work with the Nigerian government to bring the killers to justice

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 the extremist group, identified as
Ansaru, was published online and could not be immediately verified.

It said Ansaru members killed the
hostages after British warplanes were reported to have been seen in the
northern Nigeria city of Bauchi by local journalists.

In a statement, the group said: ‘As a result of this operation, the seven hostages were killed.’

On
that matter, the British Foreign Office said today: ‘There are a number
of deployments as parts of various engagements in Africa which will
include the movement of assets.’

This is not the first time hostages have been killed in Nigeria.

Pictured: An image taken from a video previously issued by Nigeria Islamist group Ansaru, standing behind a banner reading 'Ansar al--Muslimeen in the Land of Black Africans'

Pictured: An image taken from a video previously issued by Nigeria Islamist group Ansaru, standing behind a banner reading ‘Ansar al–Muslimeen in the Land of Black Africans’

British national Chris McManus and
Italian co-worker Franco Lamolinara died in a failed rescue bid in March
last year as Nigerian troops and UK Special Boat Service commandos
tried to end their nine months in captivity.

Earlier
today, Italian news agency Ansa quoted from an Italian foreign ministry
statement which said all seven hostages had been killed in this latest
hostage situation.

The
statement said: ‘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.’

Statement: The message, attributed to Ansaru, posted online claiming that the seven hostages had been killed

Statement: The message, attributed to Ansaru, posted online claiming that the seven hostages had been killed

Meanwhile, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that ‘the information available points to the death of a Greek citizen’ and his family had been notified.

The statement said the ministry believed no operation was mounted to free the hostages and the extremist group at no stage either communicated or expressed demands for the release of the hostages.

The group said a video of the
killings would be posted online. An online image accompanying the
posting appeared to show a gunman standing over bodies.

They
claimed a message from Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan that said
the government would do anything in its power to free the hostages also
sparked the decision to kill the hostages.

Local media: A report, published by Leadership Weekend, claimed that five British 'jet bombers' were spotted at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja

Local media: A report, published by Leadership Weekend, claimed that five British ‘jet bombers’ were spotted at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja

Ansaru previously issued a short statement in which it said its fighters kidnapped the foreigners on February 16 from a construction company’s camp at Jama’are, a town about 125 miles north of Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state.

The attack saw gunmen first assault a local prison and burn police trucks, authorities said.

Then the attackers blew up a back
fence at the construction company’s compound and took over, killing a
guard in the process, witnesses and police said.

The
gunmen appeared to be organised and knew who they wanted to target,
leaving the Nigerian household staff members at the residence unharmed,
while the foreigners were quickly abducted, a witness said.

Local Report
Local report

Ansaru cited two local media reports claiming
that British planes had arrived in Nigeria to assist a rescue operation
for the terrorists but the MoD categorically denied that British troops
were involved in a rescue

In January 2012, Ansaru declared itself a splinter group independent from Boko Haram, the north’s main terrorist group, analysts say.

Boko Haram, whose name means ‘Western education is sacrilege’, has launched a guerrilla campaign of bombings and shootings across Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north.

Boko Haram is blamed for at least 792 killings last year alone, according to an AP count.

Yesterday a military spokesman said at least two soldiers and 52 Boko Haram fighters were killed in Maiduguri in fighting after a visit by the president.

Workers: The group were all employees of Setraco, a Lebanese construction company with an operation in Bauchi state v

Workers: The group were all employees of Setraco, a Lebanese construction company with an operation in Bauchi state

The Ministry of Defence has categorically said its planes were only present at Nnamdi
Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja to assist the French-led
operation in Mali, categorically denying any involvement in a rescue
bid.

The group, also known as the Vanguard
for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa, released a statement saying that they had killed the hostages because of a planned rescue by
British and Nigerian forces.

Industry: Photographs from Setraco's site showing the company's workers carrying out various operations

Industry: Photographs from Setraco’s site showing the company’s workers carrying out various operations

The message, issued in both Arabic and English, was accompanied by screen shots of a video purporting to show gunmen standing above the dead hostages.

The
message claimed that British forces had sent ‘five jet bombers and
soldiers’ to the area, also claiming that Nigerians had been arrested
and killed by the troops.

A report appeared in a local
newspaper two weeks ago reporting that five British ‘bomber jets’ had
been spotted at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

The
report suggested that the planes, allegedly marked ‘Royal Army’, may
have been planning to launch a rescue operation for the hostages.

HOW TERRORISTS EXECUTED BRITISH HOSTAGE IN NIGERIA DURING BOTCHED RESCUE

A British hostage was killed by his captors in Nigeria in March 2010 when a UK Special Forces rescue operation ended in tragedy.

Chris McManus

Chris McManus was executed by gunmen as members of the Special Boat Service and Nigerian soldiers moved in on the Al Qaeda-inspired terrorists’ hideaway.

Fellow hostage, Italian Franco Lamolinara, was also killed. The pair had been held for ten months.

Footage of the 28-year-old engineer blindfolded alongside three armed men was broadcast, showing the terrified hostage pleading for his life. 

The botched rescue was triggered when – after months of searching – the SBS found the heavily protected location where the men were being held.

Mr Cameron said authorities had decided to go ahead with the rescue after receiving ‘credible information about [the men’s] location’.

Published in Leadership Weekend,
the report quoted a military official linking the presence of the
British jets with an operation, but the British high commissioner in
Nigeria, Rob Fitzpatrick, told the publication: ‘This is routine
military-to-military engagement.’

The
message posted online by Ansaru, dated February 5, contained links to
two online reports stating that the planes had been spotted.

A
Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed there has been a military
presence in the Abuja airport but it said this was unconnected to the
hostages.

Authorities categorically deny that there the British have been involved in the operation.

British authorities have previously linked Ansaru to the
May 2011 kidnapping of Christopher McManus, who was abducted with
Italian Franco Lamolinara from a home in Kebbi state.

The men were held
for months before being murdered by their captors in March 2012 during a
failed Nigerian military raid backed by British special forces in
Sokoto, the main city in Nigeria’s northwest.

Boko Haram earlier
claimed the kidnapping in December of a French national working on a
renewable energy project in Nigeria’s northern Katsina state.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office warn against travel to Nigeria, alerting visitors to the threat of terrorism and kidnap.

Terrorism poses a clear threat to
visitors in the country, while the threat of retaliatory attacks
following the French intervention in Mali has also been flagged as a
potential aggravating factor.

Recent terrorist kidnaps have largely taken place in northern Nigeria, where Ansaru and Boko Haram operate.

Around 117,000 British nationals
visit Nigeria each year, with 50 British nationals requiring consular
assistance in the country between April 1 2011 and March 31 2012.

VIDEO: Nigeria Islamist group says has executed 7 foreign hostages 



Loading video…

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

What is it with these extremists. We’ve seen it wherever they’ve protested, they are so cowardly that they have to cover their faces, any marks – to be that extreme in anything you believe in surely you would have the courage of your convictions and the bravery to stand and be seen by everyone, but these cowards always cover their faces, and everything they stand for means nothing when they can’t show themselves. They are pathetic and will be judged for their cowardice.

grumpy old woman
,

Planet Zorg,
10/3/2013 17:11

British troops are on trial for allegedly killing terrorists in a firefight. Is anyone going to bring these real murderers to trial? Thought not.

Feddup
,

Yorkshire, United Kingdom,
10/3/2013 17:10

Allah will not accept you after this. Those who believe in a god know that above everything he would not condone this!

Sophy
,

London,
10/3/2013 17:10

cold blooded murder deserves cold blooded revenge. I cannot get printed what retaliation we should reign down on them!

Tony
,

Derbyshire,
10/3/2013 17:09

Why do they cover their faces? I thought only Muslim women did that. If they are soldiers, fighting a war then perhaps they should invite other soldiers to face them. Not murder completely innocent people who are in Nigeria to help Nigeria.

madeiranlotuseater
,

Funchal,
10/3/2013 17:07

They obviously have no understanding of the phrase ‘most merciful God’, just cowardly thugs and gangsters hiding behind religion.

Bladerunner
,

Arboga,
10/3/2013 16:58

What a dreadful Country, why would anyone in their right minds want to go there or work there. Unbelievable. Money ?? They can keep it. Appaling place.

Mary H
,

Aylesbury,
10/3/2013 16:56

Pure, pure evil

Reality Chick
,

Toronto,
10/3/2013 16:56

Horrific, poor mothers getting this news on today of all days. Perhaps everyone should stop chasing the big bucks in countries like this and stay home or somewhere safer – money isn’t everything. Not blaming the victims at all, but this always seems to happen in countries where foreign workers go for the big salaries. They are big fo a reason, murderers like this being around.

Spangles
,

Cambridge,
10/3/2013 16:53

I think they know he is dead. RIP. killed by cowards.

danny
,

north,
10/3/2013 16:53

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