BEIRUT

Middle East

Syrian Embassy confirms identities of missing in Nigeria

In this image from video posted on an islamist web site, an armed man appears to stand over the what are claimed to be the corpses of some of the seven foreign hostages abducted from northern Nigeria and later killed by Islamic extremists. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: The Syrian Embassy in Nigeria confirmed Wednesday the identities of two Syrians kidnapped in that country last month.

An embassy official told The Daily Star that Julio Al Khouli, born 1979, and Ghaidaa Saad, born 1984, hail from the town of Al Qattinah near Homs and had been married just a few months when they were taken hostage by Islamic militants along with five other foreigners working for the Lebanese-Nigerian construction firm Setraco.

When questioned about the lack of public response from the Syrian government regarding the fate of two citizens, the source said the embassy and the Foreign Ministry have been following up with Nigerian authorities since the beginning of the hostage crisis.

"At first they were saying it was four Lebanese, but there are two Syrians and two Lebanese. There is no difference, however. Terrorism does not differentiate between Lebanese, Syrian, Greek, British or any other nationality," the official said.

"There is no confirmed information" regarding the death of the hostages, he said, adding: "We hope they are safe."

A source from the Lebanese-Nigerian construction firm Setraco confirmed the names to The Daily Star Tuesday.

The Islamist militant group Ansaru has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, which followed a raid on the company's housing compound in the northern state of Bauchi on February 16.

Over the weekend, Ansaru announced they had killed the hostages, with the deaths of the three British, Greek and Italian individuals confirmed by their governments. The Lebanese government has said that Imad al-Andari and Carlos Abu Aziz, the two Lebanese, and the two Syrians, did not appear in a video of executed hostages released by the group.

 

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