Kidnapped Italians freed in Libya

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ROME (AFP) – Two Italian construction workers kidnapped in Libya last month have been released, Italy said on Friday, with Foreign Minister Emma Bonino thanking Italian officials operating in “a difficult environment”.

“I feel great joy and satisfaction over the release of Francesco Scalise and Luciano Gallo,” Bonino said in a statement that gave no details on the release but said it was thanks to “joint activities” by Italy and Libya.

“A heartfelt thank you to the women and men of the foreign ministry and other institutions who have facilitated a favourable outcome to this affair in a difficult environment,” she said.

The two, who are expected to return to Rome later on Friday, were in Libya working on a road building project in the city of Derna for the contractor General World and had only been in Libya for a few months.

They were seized from their van by armed men on January 17 outside Derna in eastern Libya, reports said.

Since the fall of Moamer Kadhafi’s regime in 2011, the government has struggled to restore order and security in a country ravaged by anarchy and deadly violence.

The situation is particularly critical in eastern Libya, particularly Derna and Benghazi, which have become bastions for Islamist radicals.

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