Bauchi — Security operatives in Bauchi State yesterday said they were still investigating allegations of the killing of seven expatriates kidnapped in Jama'are Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
Last month seven expatriate workers of Setraco Nigeria Limited were kidnapped by unknown gunmen. An Islamic Group called Ansaru claimed responsibility for the abduction of the seven expatriates that included five Lebanese, one Briton and one Italian.
Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Hassan Mohammed Auyo told Vanguard, "Police have no evidence that the expatriates were killed. We are still investigating the matter and the veracity of the information pasted on web site allegedly by the group".
Reliable top security sources in Bauchi told newsmen that they heard about the killings of the expatriates as everybody heard about it, adding: "We are still making our enquiries to get the correct information, because we did not carry out any rescue operation either jointly or separately. We are still monitoring the situation".
However Britain, Italy and Greece confirmed yesterday, that it was true that the militants might have killed the hostages, which they condemned as barbaric and cold-blooded.
The Ansaru group on Saturday announced the deaths of all the expatriates abducted from a construction site of Lebanese company Setraco on February 16 in Bauchi.
Ansaru, considered an offshoot of Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram, backed up its claim with "screen captures of a forthcoming video showing the dead hostages," SITE, an intelligence group said.
According to SITE, "the group stated that the attempts by the British and Nigerian governments to rescue the hostages, and their alleged arrest and killing of people, forced it to carry out the execution."
Police, last month, said the hostages were four Lebanese, one Briton, a Greek citizen and an Italian, while the company said the Middle Eastern hostages included two Lebanese and two Syrians.
Ansaru said it had carried out the kidnapping to avenge what it called 'atrocities by European nationals against Islam.' The victims-- three Lebanese citizens and one each from Britain, Greece, Italy and the Philippines-- were all employees of a Lebanese construction company, Setraco.
UK, Greece, Italy react
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said all the hostages were "likely to have been killed" by their captors.
"This was an act of cold-blooded murder, which I condemn in the strongest terms," he said, expressing his determination to work with the Nigerian authorities "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."
The Italian Foreign Ministry in a statement branded it "a horrific act of terrorism for which there is no explanation except barbaric and blind violence.
"No military intervention to free the hostages was ever attempted by the interested government," it said, adding that the killings were "the aberrant expression of a hateful and intolerable fanaticism."
The Greek foreign ministry said: "Available information suggests that the Greek citizen abducted in Nigeria alongside six nationals of other countries are dead.
"Based on the information we have, there was no rescue operation."
In an e-mail sent to journalists announcing the kidnapping two days later, Ansaru said the motives were "the transgressions and atrocities done to the religion of Allah... by the European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali."
Ansaru has been linked to several kidnappings, including the May 2011 abductions of a Briton and an Italian working for a construction firm in KebbiState, near the border with Niger.
The victims were killed in March 2012 in neighbouring SokotoState during a botched rescue operation.
It also claimed the December kidnapping of a French engineer in KatsinaState, bordering Niger. The victim's whereabouts remain unknown.
Seven members of a French family, including four children, were also abducted last month in Cameroon, and Cameroon authorities said they were then taken over the border into restive northeastern Nigeria. Their whereabouts also remain unknown.
Meanwhile, Britain's military said, yesterday, that its warplanes recently spotted in Abuja were there to move soldiers to aid the French intervention in Mali and not to rescue foreign hostages kidnapped by the radical Islamic extremist group.
The extremist group partially blamed the presence of those planes as an excuse for killing seven foreign hostages.