A Christian missionary who was abducted in southern Nigeria last month has been killed, but the three others who were kidnapped along with him have been released, the British government announced on Nov. 6.
According to the British Foreign Office, missionary Ian Squire had been killed in Nigeria's Delta region, but the manner in which he had died was not detailed. Alanna Carson, David Donovan, and Shirley Donovan --- who were abducted with him on Oct. 13 --- have already gone back to their respective families, the Voice of America relayed.
Boko Haram militants have been known to kidnap civilians in the Delta region, but their involvement in Squire's case has not been confirmed. The Foreign Office has refused to comment further, as the matter is still being investigated.
After the missionaries were taken from their accommodations last month, a manhunt was launched to look for a gang suspected to be involved in the incident. The four were part of a British-led team that had been running clinics in the crime-infested region for the last 14 years, The Telegraph reported.
Delta police commissioner Zanna Ibrahim said they suspect that the local militant group called Karowei was responsible for the abduction of the four Christian missionaries. The victims might have been taken in retaliation against the law and order operation dubbed as "Operation Crocodile Smile."
"The kidnap may not be unconnected with the present onslaught on militant activities embarked upon by the military, codenamed Operation Crocodile Smile," Ibrahim previously said.
Father Ralph Madu, an official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, said abductions frequently happened in the Delta region and its surrounding areas. He discounted the prospect that the missionaries had been targeted for their faith and said they might have just turned up "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
A number of the areas that the missionaries worked in were located in dense swamps and creeks that could only be reached via boat. Because of this, the Foreign Office discouraged travel to these places as they usually serve as training grounds for militant groups.