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Nigeria denies hostage rescue claims

LAGOS, Nigeria, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The Nigerian military says there was no alleged failed rescue attempt of British hostages being held by Niger Delta rebels.

Denying claims by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, that the government botched an attempt to rescue two British oil field workers it is holding, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, spokesman for the military's Joint Task Force in Niger Delta, told the Voice of America Monday the claim was "mere propaganda."

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"The operation we conducted on Friday and into the wee hours of Saturday was aimed to flush out militants from identified militant camps," Musa told the broadcaster. "We wouldn't have attacked those camps if we knew there were hostages in that area."

Musa told VOA the Joint Task Force instead attacked the camp to recover arms and munitions.

Britons Robin Hughes and Matthew Maguire were kidnapped by MEND rebels last September, officials said.

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