BBC News with David Austin
An attempt to rescue a kidnapped British engineer and his Italian colleague in Nigeria has failed, and both are dead. The British Prime Minister David Cameron said early indications were that the hostages were killed by their captors before they could be freed. The men were kidnapped last May. British forces supported the Nigerian-led operation. Our correspondent in Rome Alan Johnston reports on the reaction in Italy.
News of the failed rescue mission was broken here in a statement from the office of the Prime Minister Mario Monti. It described the unfolding of events in very much the same way as the British side did, but it also said that the Italian government has only been informed that military action was being taken after the rescue mission had begun. And this has caused some concern here. A member of parliament, Rosa Calipari, demanded to know why the Italians hadn't been involved in the decision-making process from the start.
A deadline for private creditors to join a multi-billion euro Greek bond swap has now passed without an announcement on the outcome of negotiations. Before the deadline, the Greek government had indicated it was confident of completing a deal with investors that could help it avoid defaulting on its huge debts. An official told the BBC correspondent in Athens that he believed some 80% of private creditors would sign up.
The Kenyan government says it's sacked 25,000 health workers from public hospitals who've been on strike for a week over pay and conditions. A health workers' union has dismissed the action as a negotiating tactic. Will Ross reports from Nairobi.
This appears to be an extraordinarily drastic measure by the Kenyan government. It said the names of 25,000 nurses and lab technicians have been removed from the payroll. They've been on strike for four days demanding better pay. A government spokesman described the strike action as unethical and urged unemployed or retired health workers to turn up on Friday to be interviewed for jobs. The health workers' union dismissed this as a tactic intended to blackmail the striking staff.
The United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos says she's concerned to find out what's happened to the people of a ruined district of the Syrian city of Homs. She said she was still waiting for the Syrian government to respond to a request to let humanitarian aid in. Jim Muir has this report from Beirut.
Valerie Amos said she was devastated by what she saw during her brief 45-minute visit to Baba Amr on Wednesday.
"The devastation there is significant. That part of Homs is completely destroyed, and I'm concerned to know what has happened to the people who lived in that part of the city."
Activist groups continue to report the summary execution of men from Baba Amr, the butchering of entire families and also the systematic mass rape of women.
World News from the BBC
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has welcomed a statement by President Obama that there's a window of opportunity to solve the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically. Ayatollah Khamenei said they were good words although he said the US still wanted to bring the Iranian people to their knees through sanctions. But a BBC correspondent points out that Mr Obama said Washington would take no options off the table in order to stop Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The Pakistani interior minister says the three widows of Osama Bin Laden have been charged with illegally entering and living in Pakistan.
The three women, thought to be two Saudi Arabians and a Yemeni, were taken into Pakistani custody after American commandos killed the al-Qaeda leader at his home in Abbottabad last May.
Indigenous protesters in Ecuador have begun a two-week march across the country to demand that the government abandon plans for large-scale mining projects. Several hundreds protesters set off from an Amazon province where a Chinese company has been authorised to develop a huge open-cast copper mine. Ecuador's main indigenous organisation says mining will contaminate water supplies.
A rare "wanted" poster offering a reward for the capture of King Charles II in 1651 has been sold at auction in England for more than $50,000. The poster was issued by the parliament led by Oliver Cromwell towards the end of the English Civil War. Here's Claire Marshall with the details.
The price went up and up.
"My hammer's down at ￡33,000. Thank you, sir."
Tony Whittaker was the winner.
"Is that what you expected to pay?"
"No, I was told either 1,000 or 4,000."
"Why did you pay so much for it?"
"Well, I doubt she's called Cromwell Manor, and I thought it would look good on the wall even though it's a very expensive wall now."
Enthusiasts should be pleased that it's staying in the local area so significant to the story of the Civil War.
And that's the BBC News.
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