Authority in the British military on Sunday said its warplanes recently spotted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja were there to move soldiers to aid the French intervention in Mali, not to rescue foreign hostages kidnapped by an Islamic group.
The extremist group called Ansaru partially blamed the presence of those planes as an excuse for killing seven foreign hostages, including British, Greek, Italian and Lebanese citizens.
The Islamic radicals claimed on Saturday that they had killed the seven hostages. While Nigerian authorities have yet to comment publicly about Ansaru’s claim.
Ansaru said it killed the hostages in part due to media on the arrival of British military aircraft to Bauchi, where the abductions occurred. However, the online statement from Ansaru said the airplanes were spotted at the international airport in Abuja.
The British Ministry of Defence said the planes it flew to Abuja ferried Nigerian troops and equipment to Bamako, Mali. Nigerian soldiers have been sent to Mali to help French forces and Malian troops battle Islamic extremists there. The British military said it also transported Ghanaian soldiers to Mali the same way.
The British ministry declined to offer any other comment regarding Nigerian extremist group’s claims that it killed the seven hostage killings. Ansaru had said it believed the planes were part of a Nigerian and British rescue mission for the abducted hostages.
In its statement Saturday, Ansaru also blamed the killings on a pledge by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to do “everything possible” to free the hostages.
Ansaru previously issued a short statement saying its fighters kidnapped the foreigners Feb. 16 from a construction company’s camp at Jama’are, a town about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state. In the attack gunmen first assaulted a local prison and burned 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.
In January 2013, Ansaru declared itself a splinter group independent from Boko Haram.