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Originally published Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 5:24 AM

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UK military: Planes in Nigeria for Mali operation

The United Kingdom's military says its warplanes recently spotted in Nigeria's capital city were there to move soldiers to aid the French intervention in Mali - not to rescue kidnapped foreign hostages.

The Associated Press

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KANO, Nigeria —

The United Kingdom's military says its warplanes recently spotted in Nigeria's capital city were there to move soldiers to aid the French intervention in Mali - not to rescue kidnapped foreign hostages.

The Ministry of Defense said Sunday that the planes had ferried Nigerian troops and equipment to Bamako, Mali. An Islamic extremist group in Nigeria called Ansaru partially blamed the presence of those planes as an excuse for claiming Saturday that it killed seven foreign hostages it had taken.

Those kidnapped included four Lebanese citizens and one each from Britain, Greece and Italy - all employees of Setraco, a Lebanese construction company with an operation in Bauchi state.

The Ministry of Defense declined to comment further about the claimed hostage killings. The hostages have yet to be found.

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