Two Italian construction workers kidnapped in Libya last month have been released and returned to Italy on Friday thanks to joint work by the Italian government and the Libyan army and secret services, officials said.
“I feel great joy and satisfaction over the release of Francesco Scalise and Luciano Gallo,” Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino was quoted saying in a statement.
Bonino thanked Italian officials for their success despite “a difficult environment”, without adding further details on how the two men were freed.
Italy’s ambassador to Libya, Giuseppe Buccino, told AFP that they were released “thanks to the co-operation between Italy and the Libyan army and secret services”.
The two 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.
Scalise’s family expressed relief and joy and Pietro Fazio, the mayor of Gallo’s hometown of Feroleto Antico in southern Italy, said Friday was “a day for feasting”.