Italy: Britain Must Explain Failed Hostage Rescue in Nigeria

Posted March 9th, 2012 at 9:55 am (UTC-5)
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Italian authorities are expressing anger that Thursday's attempted rescue of a British and an Italian hostage in Nigeria apparently went ahead without their input.

Speaking to reporters in Rome Friday, Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano said Britain did not tell Italy about the botched (failed) rescue operation in advance, behavior he called “inexplicable.”

He said, “They did not inform or consult with Italy in respect of this forceful action, which could have and in the end did have this unfortunate consequence. A political and diplomatic clarification is necessary.”

The head of a parliamentary committee on Italian national security, Massimo d'Alema, says Britain needs to clarify why it did not discuss the operation with Italy before beginning.

Two hostages, Italian national Franco Lamolinara and British national Christopher McManus, were killed by their kidnappers Thursday during a joint British-Nigerian rescue attempt in the city of Sokoto.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday he approved the operation after getting information of the men's location and that their lives were in “imminent and growing danger.”

Mr. Cameron apparently informed Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in a phone call after the operation was underway.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan blamed the Boko Haram militant group for the kidnappings and said that all the kidnappers have been arrested, without specifying how many.

British and Nigerian officials say they believe the captors were from an al-Qaida-linked splinter cell of Boko Haram, rather than from the group's main leadership.

The hostages were kidnapped in May in northern Nigeria. They later appeared in an Internet video with armed gunmen who claimed to be with the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Kidnappings are not uncommon in Nigeria's delta region, where tensions over oil profits run high, but they are rare in northwestern Nigeria where Sokoto is located, near the border with Niger.