Italy angry after failed Nigeria hostage rescue bid

Chris McManus had been held captive in north-west Nigeria since May 2011
Chris McManus had been held captive in north-west Nigeria since May 2011

By Alex Stevenson

Britain faces anger from Italy after it emerged it did not notify Rome of the failed bid to rescue British and Italian hostages in Nigeria yesterday.

Chris McManus, 28, and Franco Lamolinara, 47, were killed by terrorists in Nigeria before a Special Boat Service force was able to rescue them from the Boko Haram sect extremists.

The UK government's failure to keep its Italian counterparts notified beforehand has triggered angry questions in Italy.


"It is something that is against what is usually done in this case. It is quite uncommon that a country that is involved is not informed before," Italian senator Lucio Malan told Newsnight.

"Apparently it was a very difficult situation and it might have been the best decision but it is still to be explained why the Italian authorities haven't been informed - although they are quite present on the territory of Nigeria."

Yesterday David Cameron had explained that a "window of opportunity" arose to rescue Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara, who had been held captive since their kidnapping in May 2011.

"We also had reason to believe that their lives were under imminent and growing danger," he added.

"We are still awaiting confirmation of the details, but the early indications are clear that both men were murdered by their captors, before they could be rescued."

Intercepted mobile phone calls revealed that the terrorists were preparing to move and kill the pair, the Telegraph reported. The rescue bid had to be launched in full daylight as a result.

"I also want to pay tribute to all those, including UK personnel, who worked so hard to try to bring Chris home safely," Mr Cameron added.

"I am very sorry that this ended so tragically."

The pair were building a branch for the Central Bank of Nigeria for Italian construction company B Stabilini when they were abducted last year.

Mr McManus' family said they were "devastated" by the news.

"We knew Chris was in an extremely dangerous situation," they said. "However we knew that everything that could be done was being done."

Labour leader Ed Miliband described the pair's death as a "horrific event" but did not venture criticism of the government's decision-making.

"I condemn unreservedly the callous cruelty of their kidnappers and we pay tribute to those who risked their lives in attempting to rescue them," he said.

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