NIGERIA: Hostages killed in rescue bid

Two Europeans held hostage by kidnappers claiming ties to al-Qaida were killed before rescuers could free them, authorities said Thursday. The men, a Briton and an Italian, were killed by their captors. A Nigerian official said they died in the crossfire during the rescue attempt, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in London. Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, taken captive in May, had been working on a bank construction project in Nigeria. A senior British government official said the kidnappers appeared to be from an al-Qaida-linked cell within Boko Haram, but not within the main Boko Haram faction. McManus was working for the construction company B. Stabilini when he was kidnapped May 12 by gunmen who stormed his apartment in Birnin-Kebbi. Lamolinara was also abducted then. A German colleague managed to escape by scaling a wall, but a Nigerian engineer was shot and wounded.

ETHIOPIA: Two abducted tourists freed

Two German tourists kidnapped during an attack by gunmen in January have been released, an official said in Addis Ababa. Foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said the Germans were freed from kidnappers associated with the country's archrival, Eritrea. Five tourists were killed and two wounded in the Jan. 18 attack in Ethiopia's arid north.

BRITAIN: Press watchdog disbanded

Britain's press regulator, much criticized amid a scandal over tabloid phone hacking, confirmed Thursday that it is to be abolished and replaced with a new body. The Press Complaints Commission said it had appointed a "director of transition" to conduct the shutdown and oversee the creation of a new body, "including transferring staff, assets and liabilities." The industry-funded body has been called weak and ineffective by victims of tabloid intrusion, who have increasingly turned to the courts instead for redress. The body can demand a newspaper publish an apology, but has no power to issue fines.

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