Three men working for an Italian infrastructure firm who were kidnapped in southern Libya in September have been freed after 47 days in captivity.
Danilo Calonego, Bruno Cacace and Frank Poccia were abducted on 19 September while working in Ghat, a district in the country’s southwest, near the Algerian border. According to the Italian foreign ministry, they were kidnapped after the vehicle they were travelling in was fired on by a group of armed men.
The three were released in the early hours of Saturday and flown to Italy. The Italian government said their release was the result of "efficient collaboration with local Libyan authorities".
It had been reported last month that the kidnappers were a splinter group from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and had demanded a ransom of €4m for the men’s safe return. It had also been reported that the kidnappers were criminals rather than Islamic extremists.
The men were engineers with Costruzioni Internazionali Contratti (Con I Cos), which carries out infrastructure work in Libya. The men were working on an airport project when they were abducted.
Italian media reports said the men would be speaking with prosecutors before being reunited with their families.
Cacace, 56, had lived in Libya for 15 years; Calonego, 66, was from Belluno province near Venice and Poccia was a Canadian citizen living in Italy.
Image: The medina quarter of Ghat (Duimdog/Creative Commons)