By NBF News

British and Italian authorities are checking the authenticity of a video showing two Westerners abducted in Nigeria last spring, an act purportedly conducted by al Qaeda militants.

The French Press Agency reported yesterday that it received a video at its office in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan that said the two men, an Italian and a Briton, had been abducted by al Qaeda. The agency, also called Agence France Presse, said the hostages were 'blindfolded and on their knees, with three men holding weapons standing behind them, their faces hidden by turbans.'

If al Qaeda were involved, It would be the terror network's first confirmed operation in Nigeria.

The British Foreign Office yesterday confirmed that the two, including a Briton, were abducted in Nigeria on May 12 and officials are working with Nigerian and Italian authorities and the firm that employs the men.'A video has been released allegedly showing the hostages and officials are urgently checking its authenticity. We regret the public release of material such as this and urge the media not to speculate at this sensitive time,' the office said in a statement.

'We are working to secure the hostages' safe and swift release. We ask those holding the two men to show compassion and release them, enabling them to rejoin their families.' The Italian Foreign Ministry said the government is closely monitoring the situation of Italian national Franco Lamolinara, abducted in Nigeria on May 12 with a Briton.

'A video released of the two hostages is being evaluated for authenticity. As in previous cases involving fellow nationals abroad, the foreign ministry is maintaining its usual reserve regarding the intense diplomatic efforts under way, and urges the collaboration of the press along the same lines.'

The French news agency said the men were engineers working for an Italian construction company based in Nigeria and were taken by gunmen who stormed their apartment in Birnin Kebbi, the capital of Kebbi state.