Somali Kidnappers Free Two Italians
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Somali kidnappers freed two Italian aid workers today, almost two days after they were seized at gunpoint, Italy’s ambassador said.
Ambassador Mario Scialoja said Sergio Passadore and Gianfranco Stefani were released following a day of negotiations between the envoy and Somali clan elders.
The kidnappers reportedly demanded a $50,000 ransom for the pair, but Scialoja said no money was paid.
Passadore and Stefani were seized Sunday in a small village near Jowhar, about 50 miles north of Mogadishu. Both work for the Bologna-based European Consortium for Agrarian Development, or CEFA.
It was the second time Passadore had been kidnapped. He was seized and held briefly in August in Mogadishu by gunmen who apparently mistook him for an American.
Five other people, including two British parliamentarians, have been kidnapped in Somalia in recent weeks, but none has been held for longer than two days.
The kidnappings are part of a pattern of escalating violence and banditry that has accompanied the gradual withdrawal of U.S. and other Western forces from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Horn of Africa nation.