Chris McManus, 28, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, and Franco Lamolinara have both died following an attempt by UK Special Forces and Nigerian military on Thursday.
Both engineers were abducted last May by an Islamist group in Sokoto. While David Cameron has claimed the men’s lives were in “imminent danger,” the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, told the Italian media “The behaviour of the British government, which did not inform or consult with Italy on the operation that it was planning, really is inexplicable.” Mr Napolitano is seeking a political and diplomatic explanation from Britain.
Reports allege that the kidnappers turned their guns on the two construction engineers before the joint British and Nigerian military operation even entered the compound. Following the operation Mr Cameron said: “The early indications are clear that both men were murdered by their captors”.
However, an unnamed Nigerian official from the state security service tells the story differently, suggesting the men died in the crossfire.
Italian Senator Lucio Malan told BBC Two’s Newsnight of Italy’s dissatisfaction. “It is quite uncommon that a country that is involved is not informed before. 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”.
Dvaid Cameron’s repsonse: “A window of opportunity arose to try and secure their release. We also had reason to believe that their lives were under imminent and growing danger.”
Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman Richard Ottaway supports the Prime Minister telling the BBC: “I can understand the concerns and frustrations of Italian politicians but I think they’ve got to accept and recognise that these are very fast-moving, delicate operations and it’s not always possible to keep politicians briefed in advance of what goes on.”
The two men were seized by gunmen in the town of Birnin Kebbi on 12 May 2011. The Foreign Office advises against travel to some areas of Nigeria warning that there is the threat of kidnap and terrorism.