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Italian authorities demand details of rescue operation that claimed foreign duo

Channels Television  
Updated March 9, 2012


Italy is demanding details of the Special Forces rescue mission in which the British engineer Christopher McManus and his Italian colleague Franco Lamolinara were killed.

The operation was carried out without the knowledge of the Italian authorities, a situation that has infuriated them.

The attempt to free Mr McManus, from northwest England, and Mr Lamolinara also involved members of the Nigerian army.

Mr Cameron said the pair appeared to have died at the hands of their captors, although it was not clear when.

It is believed there was a fight and during the assault the UK and Nigerian forces could not get to Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara in time.

“It strongly appears that the hostage-takers shot the hostages,” the sources said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the pair’s “killers” have been arrested and identified as members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

The rescue bid was launched after the UK received credible information about the hostages’ whereabouts and that their lives were under increasing threat.

However, an Italian senator and a Labour MP called for an explanation of why the country was not informed about the military-led rescue effort until it was under way.

Mr McManus was captured by gunmen during a raid on his apartment

Mr Monti revealed the lack of prior warning in a statement in which he said UK and Nigerian authorities had determined the operation was the “last window of opportunity to save the hostages’ lives”.

He said he had requested from the Nigerian president a “detailed reconstruction” of what went wrong.

Lucio Malan, of the People of Freedom party, questioned why the British government did not inform Italian counterparts of its intentions before launching the operation.

Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Nigeria, said: “I don’t know how fast moving this was but it does seem odd that an ally like Italy was not actually kept informed.”

Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara – contract workers for the Italian construction firm B Stabilini – were seized by gunmen who stormed their apartment.

A Nigerian and a German, who were also in the building, managed to escape but suffered injuries after being hit by bullets.

In August last year, a video of Mr McManus and Mr Lamolinara was released by the kidnappers. It showed the pair blindfolded and kneeling in front of their captors who were armed with rifles and a machete.

There have been a number of foreigners kidnapped while working in Nigeria in recent years especially in the oil-rich Niger Delta where the native militants are agitating for a fair share of the resource found in the area.