Seven foreign hostages kidnapped last month by a Nigerian Islamist group from a construction company compound have been killed, the Italian and Greek foreign ministries said on Sunday.
The al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansaru announced on Saturday that it had killed the hostages seized on February 7 in the northern state of Bauchi because of attempts by Nigerian and British forces to free them.
It published grainy photos purporting to show the bodies of a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese workers snatched from the Lebanese firm Setraco's premises.
"Our checks conducted in coordination with the other countries concerned lead us to believe that the news of the killing of the hostages seized last month is true," an Italian Foreign Ministry statement said.
"There was never any military attempt to rescue the hostages by any of the governments concerned," it said, adding that the president had sent his condolences to the Italian's family.
The British foreign office named the British hostage as Brendan Vaughan. An intelligence source in Abuja named the Italian as Silvano Trevisan, adding that he had been suffering from hypertension and heart problems.
Security has become a top concern for oil and infrastructure companies across the region since gunmen loyal to al Qaeda's North African franchise stormed an Algerian natural gas plant in January. Up to 37 foreigners died during an attempted rescue mission by the Algerian armed forces.
The risk posed by Islamists across west and north Africa has soared since France sent troops to Mail to wrest control of its northern territory from al Qaeda-affiliated rebels.
Britain said it was "likely" the Briton was killed along with the six others, with Foreign Secretary William Hague saying: "This was an act of cold-blooded murder, which I condemn in the strongest terms."
Greece confirmed its citizen was dead, adding the Foreign Ministry had informed his family.
Get all the latest news and videos in your inbox. Register FREE