Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram on Friday denied any involvement in the kidnapping of a Briton and Italian who were killed during a bid to rescue them in northwestern Sokoto city.
“We are not behind the hostage taking … which led to the military operation yesterday in Sokoto in which the hostages were killed,” said the group’s spokesman Abul Qaqa in a conference call with reporters.
“We have never been involved in hostage-taking and it’s not part of our style, and we never ask for ransom,” he said.
“We know how to settle our scores with anybody. Therefore the allegation that the kidnappers were members of our group is ridiculous.”
Nigeria’s government “had better get its facts straight and find the true identity of the kidnappers,” Qaqa added.
“They should not use us to mask their incompetence.”
The two expatriate workers were killed during a failed British-Nigerian military attempt to rescue them at a house in Nigeria’s far-northwestern city of Sokoto after nearly a year in captivity.
Britain said Italian engineer Francesco Molinara, 48, and his British colleague Chris McManus, 28, were shot by their captors before they could be rescued in the assault authorised by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said the kidnappers were from the Islamist group Boko Haram, which has waged a violent campaign of gun and explosives attacks mainly in the country’s northeast.
Witnesses in Sokoto however cast doubt on Jonathan’s assertion that the kidnappers were from the Islamist group.
They described an intense gun battle that lasted several hours and in which at least two hostage-takers were killed in the operation.
Diplomats have said some Boko Haram members have sought training abroad, but there had not been evidence of operational links with foreign groups.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has in recent years claimed kidnappings of foreign workers in countries including Niger, which borders Nigeria to the north, but never in Nigeria. Sokoto state borders Niger.
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