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Nigeria kidnap 'mastermind' dies in custody

The man suspected of being behind the kidnapping of a Briton and an Italian in Nigeria has died in custody, police said Wednesday, after sustaining bullet wounds during his arrest in the town of Zaria last week.

Nigeria kidnapping building 2012 03 14Enlarge
A man stands behind the damaged gate of the building in Sokoto where Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara were held hostage. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

The man suspected of planning the kidnapping of a Briton and an Italian in Nigeria has died in custody, police said Wednesday.

Abu Mohammed died of “severe bullet wounds” sustained when he was arrested in the town of Zaria along with five other suspects on March 7, the State Security Service said at a news briefing, according to the Agence France Presse.

Construction engineers Chris McManus, 28, and Franco Lamolinara, 47, were killed when British and Nigerian forces tried to free them from captivity in the northwestern city of Sokoto the following day.

Mohammed reportedly died on Friday. The five men detained with him were paraded in front of journalists at today’s news briefing in Nigerian capital Abuja, the BBC reported. The BBC’s correspondent said the men had swollen faces.

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McManus and Lamolinara were kidnapped in the town of Birnin Kebbi in May 2011, while working for Italian firm B Stabilini. British officials believe a splinter group of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram was involved in the kidnapping.

On Wednesday the State Security Service said both men had been executed before UK Special Forces and the Nigerian military arrived at the building in which they were being held hostage last week, according to the Associated Press.

The botched operation led to tensions between the UK and Italy, who said it was not informed that the raid had been given the green light by London and Abuja.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/nigeria/120314/nigeria-kidnap-mastermind-dies-custody