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Reports: Italian hostage shot four times during failed rescue

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:39 PM EDT, Sun March 11, 2012
Britain's Chris McManus and Italy's Franco Lamolinara were killed in a failed hostage rescue attempt on Thursday.
Britain's Chris McManus and Italy's Franco Lamolinara were killed in a failed hostage rescue attempt on Thursday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An autopsy is conducted on Franco Lamolinara, who was killed in a failed rescue attempt
  • Italian lawmakers are scheduled to meet over the matter
  • The British foreign secretary cites danger in explaining why Rome wasn't informed sooner
  • Abductors seized Lamolinara and Briton Chris McManus in northwestern Nigeria in May

(CNN) -- An Italian who was killed during a failed hostage rescue attempt in Nigeria was shot four times, a doctor told reporters.

Doctors conducted an autopsy on Franco Lamolinara on Saturday, immediately after his body arrived in Rome, said Dr. Paolo Alberello of the Forensic Institute of Rome's Sapienza University, according to Italian media reports.

Italy's ANSA news agency reported that a funeral will be held Monday for the 47-year-old engineer, who was abducted in May 2011, along with Briton Chris McManus.

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Kidnappers killed the men last Thursday while a raid to free them was under way, according to British government sources briefed on the matter.

The case has drawn attention -- and criticism -- from top Italian officials, who have questioned why Rome was not consulted before the operation, which was launched by Nigerian forces with support from Britain.

Failed hostage rescue under review
Hostages killed during rescue attempt

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti visited Lamolinara's family Sunday in the northern village of Gattinara, ANSA said.

Italian lawmakers were scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the lack of communication between British and Italian officials before the failed operation.

The Parliamentary Committee for National Security will question Italy's head of foreign security over the matter, according to a statement on the Parliament website.

In a meeting Friday with his Italian counterpart, British Foreign Secretary William Hague "made clear that there had been a limited opportunity to secure the release of the two hostages, whose lives were in imminent and growing danger," said a joint UK-Italian statement issued by Britain's Foreign & Commonwealth Office. "Under these circumstances it was only possible to inform Italy once the operation was already getting under way."

Lamolinara was married and had two teenage children, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported.

He and McManus worked for the construction and civil engineering firm B. Stabilini and Co., which is based in Abuja, Nigeria.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said last week that he had worked to free the two men since they were kidnapped in May 2011 and authorized the rescue attempt. Authorities could not find the men for months, he said, but eventually got credible information about their location, and "a window of opportunity" presented itself.

"The terrorists holding the two hostages made very clear threats to take their lives, including in a video that was posted on the Internet,'' Cameron said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said the men were killed before the joint forces could reach their hideout in the northern state of Sokoto.

He blamed the kidnapping and killings on Boko Haram, the militant Islamist terror group responsible for dozens of attacks in Nigeria in the past two years.

But a statement posted on a pro-jihad forum on which the militant group has been active in recent months denied any link.

"The hostage-taking operation was not a Boko Haram one, we have always claimed responsibilities for our attacks, beware allowing the Kaffir [infidel] government of Nigeria to mislead you," it says.

In December, a Nigerian group calling itself "al Qaeda in the land beyond the Sahil" announced that it had captured McManus, according to the Press Association in Britain.

Journalist Livia Borghese contributed to this report.

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