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Two Italians and a Canadian freed from Libyan kidnappers after seven weeks

Three men kidnapped in Ghat, southern Libya in September have been freed, Italian authorities have announced. The kidnappers remain unknown.

The two Italians and a Canadian citizen kidnapped in Ghat, in southern Libya in September were freed unharmed and brought to Italy early Saturday, authorities said.

Italian prosecutors questioned the men for hours Saturday, seeking more information about possible terrorist involvement. The two Italians were seen getting into cars after the questioning.

"Today is a moment of relief and joy that I would like to share with the families of our technicians," Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said, expressing special thanks to Libyan authorities and security forces.

Italian authorities said the intelligence services of Libya, Italy and Canada cooperated in securing the release of the three men after nearly seven weeks of captivity. 

Lybien Ghat (picture-alliance/Heritage Images/Werner Forman Archive)

The old town of Ghat, the city where the three men were kidnapped

Airport construction technicians

Italians Danilo Calonego and Bruno Cacace and Canadian Frank Poccia were working as technicians on an airport construction assignment on September 19 when armed, masked men blocked their vehicle in Ghat, a Sahara Desert city in southwestern Libya near the border with Algeria.

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the two Italians had not been mistreated during their captivity and were in good health. Chantal Gagnon, the spokeswoman for Canada's Global Affairs department, would not comment on Poccia's health, saying his family has requested privacy.

There are many extremist and criminal organizations that operate in southern Libya, and it was not immediately clear who was responsible. It is unknown if ransom was involved in securing the release.

Libya was once an Italian colony and Italy continues to have a strong commercial presence in the North African nation. Libya has seen significant violent conflict since former dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted in 2011.

kbd/jm (AFP, AP)

 

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