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Europe

Italian Hostages Released in Iraq

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi confirmed on Tuesday that two female Italian aid workers who had been taken hostage in Iraq had been released and turned over to the Italian Red Cross.

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The two women could be back in Italy Tuesday night

Berlusconi described the release of aid workers Simona Toretta and Simona Pari, both 29, as a "moment of joy."

"I have just rung their families to tell them," he told a news conference at government headquarters in Rome.

He added the two women, who were seized by armed men on Sept. 7 at their office in Baghdad along with an Iraqi colleague, could be back with their families by Tuesday night.

"The two Italian hostages have been released and handed over to the Italian charge d'affaires in Baghdad," the Arabic-language television news channel Al-Jazeera had reported shortly before Berlusconi's hastily organized news conference. The Italian media reported one of the women's relatives as confirming their release after talking to the Italian foreign ministry.

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