Italy Says Kidnapped Nationals, Canadian Freed In Libya

Italy says kidnapped nationals, Canadian freed in Libya

ROME, Nov 5, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 05th Nov, 2016 ) - Two Italians and a Canadian who were kidnapped in the south of conflict-torn Libya in September have been released and flown to Italy, the Italian government announced Saturday. The Italians, Danilo Calonego, 66, and Bruno Cacace, 56, and Canadian Frank Poccia were freed during the night "due to the effective cooperation with local Libyan authorities," it said in a statement. The three men were kidnapped on September 19 in Ghat, close to the Algerian border, where they worked for an Italian company that carried out maintenance at the airport.

An armed group blocked their vehicle and took them hostage. Italy's foreign ministry said the three arrived in Italy at around 3am (0200 GMT), but gave no details on their state of health. It was also not clear when Poccia might return to Canada. Rome prosecutors, who had opened an investigation into a suspected terrorist kidnapping, were to speak to the two Italians later Saturday. Several Italian companies are present in Libya, a former colony, and their expat staff have often fallen prey to kidnappers in recent years.

In July 2015, four Italians working for a construction company were kidnapped near an oil field operated by Italian giant ENI in the region of Mellitah, west of Tripoli. Two of the hostages were killed more than six months into their ordeal, likely in clashes between jihadists and local militiamen. The other two were freed in March this year, in a raid on Islamic State group hideouts near the capital. Chaos has engulfed Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed ouster of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.