ABUJA – Islamists in Nigeria have killed an aid worker who was being held hostage after a deadline imposed by the militants expired, the Nigerian government said on Monday.
Medical workers Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Alice Loksha were working in the town of Rann in March when they were kidnapped by Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) along with International Committee of the Red Cross midwife Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, who was killed in September.
The militants said in a video posted online last month that they would kill at least one hostage once a deadline due to elapse on Monday had passed.
The video had also referred to schoolgirl Leah Sharibu, 15, who was abducted in February from her school in the town of Dapchi.
The government did not confirm which of the women had been killed, other than saying it was an aid worker.
“We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker. However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed said in a statement.
The International Committee of the Red Cross appealed for lives to be spared on Sunday, as the deadline approached.
“We are hearing devastating reports that Hauwa has been executed. At this stage, we have no confirmation that this is true. We desperately hope not. This situation is heartbreaking and our thoughts remain with the family,” ICRC spokeswoman Krista Armstrong told Reuters in Geneva on Monday.
ISWA split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has killed hundreds of soldiers in attacks in northeastern Nigeria in the past few months, security and military sources have told Reuters. Like Boko Haram, it wants to create a separate state in northeast Nigeria that adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.